ERHS Senior encourages study abroad opportunities

ERHS Senior encourages study abroad opportunities
Posted on 01/06/2022
Alayna Abroad

Who am I?

My name is Alayna Coleates. I'm a senior at East Rochester High School and I'm currently a foreign exchange student with the YES Abroad program for the 2021-22 school year!

Why did I want to study abroad?

Although I love ER, I've grown up and spent my whole life here, and I knew there was more to discover and experience in the world. I have a passion for learning about different cultures, studying new languages, and I believe that foreign exchange is a unique opportunity to prove that there are more to countries than any stereotypes or stigma attached. 

Where am I studying?

I'm currently a foreign exchange student in Bosnia-Herzegovina! I live with a host family and attend high school in the second largest city in the country, Banja Luka.

*Banja Luka is the administrative and cultural center of the Republic of Srpska, one of the two states of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

*YES Abroad students may be placed in either a public high school, private high school or private program within a public high school in both Banja Luka and Sarajevo. The primary language of instruction will be either Bosnian/Serbian/Croatian (for gap year students) or English and Bosnian/Serbian/Croatian (for non-gap year students). School typically runs Monday to Friday, and schedules may vary from week to week depending on the school. 

*While there are no official extramural or extracurricular activities at the school, non-gap year host schools usually have a Creativity, Action, and Service (CAS) requirement that provides opportunities for YES Abroad students to participate in activities organized by the school, and there are plenty of activities to explore outside of school.

How did I find and set up the opportunity to study abroad?

In 2018, I went on a life-changing school trip to London, Paris and Rome. Upon my return, I was determined to travel abroad again and explore more of the world as soon as possible. I researched exchange programs and came across foreign exchange scholarships that are fully funded by the US State Department, including YES Abroad, Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange (CBYX), NSLI for Youth  and FLEX Abroad. After two years and many applications, I finally received a scholarship this year to study abroad!

What has my favorite part of studying abroad been?

It's difficult to choose! Although I love trying the delicious traditional food, seeing new sights and experiencing a completely different culture, my favorite part has probably been the people I've met along the way. My host family, my local coordinator, my classmates; all have taught me new things and welcomed me with open arms… something I will never forget! 

What would my advice be to someone looking to study abroad in high school?

Don't ever believe it's out of reach! I promise you that it's possible; if I can do it, you can do it. There are many programs out there that offer financial aid or, as in my case, fully-funded scholarships. Do your research, write those essays, put in the time and stay determined! It took me two years of applying to every fully-funded scholarship available before I received one, so don't give up! Where there's a will, there's a way. 

To watch Alayna’s “A Day in the Life” video, click here.