Only you can know if the challenge of the Academy is right for you, but here we offer a little perspective that might help you decide.
We aren’t going to lie to you. Immersion is no walk in the park (although Vermont and our study abroad locations are really beautiful in the summer)! It’s challenging. Academy alumni will tell you that living in language 24/7, while making friends, eating meals and taking classes, is hard. But here’s the deal. It’s worth it. Not only will you make amazing strides in speaking your target language, but the Academy experience is personally transformative. We know because students and parents tell us, and we see it for ourselves. Here is how one student described his process of living in French for four weeks:
“If I were to recommend this camp to another person, I would not sugar coat it. This experience was very difficult for me. There were days when I just wanted to pack my bags and go home, but something kept me here and kept me speaking French and honoring the Language Pledge®. I am so lucky to have been able to be here, and now at the end, I think this is the most satisfied I've ever felt in my life. Although it was tough, it was worth it.”
Only you can decide if the challenge of the Academy is right for you. No matter your background or prior linguistic skills, every year we find that students who are passionate about languages and intrigued with cultural diversity are a great fit for this program. And just remember, the Academy experience is not a solo trek. You are not in this alone. Quite the contrary actually, as the experience is deeply social. Part of the fun of the summer language Academy is being surrounded by so many friends who are also grabbing their pocket dictionaries, throwing words together and getting a laugh.
“The people I made friends with this past month helped me get through my learning of Chinese. Respect and friendship are ever-present. I was expecting not to make any friends at this camp, but I was extremely surprised by how much fun I had and how much I don't want to leave.”
So give it some thought. No doubt that both college preparation and summer fun are on your mind. Camps and travel programs, sister exchange and sports leagues await. But, the difference is that at the Academy, you gain a life-long skill: language proficiency.
Here is our advice: While you are young, make a commitment to be a traveler not a tourist. The life benefits of language proficiency are extensive. In college applications, you can differentiate yourself as language-savvy and culturally versed. You can show colleges, in the most real way possible, that you are dedicated to global citizenship and intercultural exchange. And with true language proficiency, you can make a meaningful difference in the world. Whether working in international business or volunteering at an orphanage, you will have the confidence and capability to cross cultural boundaries, meet people in the middle and understand other world views.