As part of Upper School Meeting on Friday, April 8, MBS students Rafael Cruz ’22, Ayo Fayemi ’23, and Tomiwa Oluwasola ’23 spoke about their experiences studying abroad in programs that ranged from a month to a year.
This past summer, Rafael Cruz ’22 had a wonderful experience participating in a month-long study abroad program in Barcelona, Spain through CIEE (Council on International Educational Exchange). From mid-June to mid-July, Raf lived with a host family in an apartment in Barcelona. On a daily basis, he would engage in discussions in Spanish, eat meals with the family, and watch soccer on TV with them. In the mornings, he would attend a 3-hour Spanish class, and in the afternoons he was free to explore the city with his friends.
“The best part was meeting everyone and making so many friends along the way. We went through so many experiences together — getting lost on a train, going to the beach, going to museums…,” he said. “Even though I’m back in New Jersey, I still keep in touch with everyone. I know that these will be lifelong friendships and they made the whole trip worthwhile.”
He also said he gained a real appreciation for other cultures. “That summer changed my whole outlook,” he said. “There’s so much going on in Barcelona and the experience really helped me appreciate different cultures and develop a global citizen mindset.”
Ayo Fayemi ’23 spent the fall semester at The Island School in the Bahamas. He said that studying there for a semester was one of the best decisions he’s ever made, and he now has unforgettable experiences and stories that will last a lifetime.
“If I could be there for an entire year, I would do it,” he said. “Everybody there is family. You will meet amazing people and you have a community there that cares about you.”
As part of the experiential, immersive program, Ayo learned about marine ecology, climate change, sustainable energy, and more. He conducted scientific research, dove with sharks, and participated in an 8-day kayak expedition.
Tomiwa Oluwasola ’23 is taking a deep dive into Spanish language and culture by spending the academic year in Spain through School Year Abroad (SYA). Her home base, Zaragoza, is Spain’s fifth-largest city and is located between Madrid and Barcelona. All of her classes are taught in Spanish except English and math, and she said that she is enjoying this truly immersive program.
“The growth that I have been experiencing since Day One of the program has been incredible,” she said. “I have learned to communicate with more fluidity and the rate at which I comprehend native Spanish speakers has skyrocketed.”
She discussed her typical school day, her extracurricular programs (from flamenco to volleyball) and the many travel opportunities that are available during weekends and holidays.