Study Abroad Before College?

Studying abroad during high school can benefit students academically, socially, and culturally, but the decision to allow your child to participate can be a difficult one. The prospect of sending your beloved youngster to China, Russia, Morocco, Indonesia, South Korea, or Turkey for a seven-week summer program or a nine-month academic year can be daunting.

When our Trinity freshman started teaching himself the Korean alphabet, we thought it was a phase. When he took a beginning Korean class through Fairfax County’s adult education program during the summer after his sophomore year, we were bemused. When he applied for a National Security Language Initiative for Youth scholarship to study in South Korea the summer after his junior year, we were scared!

Was it possible that in a few months we would be sending our 17-year-old halfway around the world with people we had never met to live with a host family and study in a foreign city? We prayed that God’s will would be done and that he would conform our wills to his, but to be honest, I also hoped and prayed that Josh would not be awarded the scholarship.

Was it possible that in a few months we would be sending our 17-year-old halfway around the world with people we had never met to live with a host family and study in a foreign city?

That summer we did, indeed, send him to Seoul as a NSLI-Y scholar to live with a host family who loved him well, to study Korean at a prestigious university, and to have an experience that helped shape his thinking, his college essays and goals, and his outlook on the world. The experience transformed his perspective to that of a global citizen, leading him to return for the academic year program a year later, deferring his college enrollment for one year.

After nearly nine months away, he came home in May as an independent, confident, competent young adult. He has now spent almost a year of his young life in Seoul, living with four different host families; navigating the city; singing in the choir of a Korean church; attending school speaking only Korean; and forging relationships with Korean host parents, grandparents, and siblings, a Korean Anglican pastor, Korean school friends, and his fellow NSLI-Y scholars.

It was the experience of a lifetime.

Trinity prepared Josh spiritually, academically, and socially to meet the many challenges of living and studying in a foreign culture while being an ambassador for Christ. If your student is interested in the adventure of living abroad while studying Arabic, Mandarin, Hindi, Indonesian, Korean, Tajiki, Russian, or Turkish, explore the U.S. Department of State’s NSLI-Y scholarship program. The program covers all expenses, including travel, housing, and academics, and it even provides a stipend. Applications for the summer of 2020 and the 2020-2021 academic year are open now. Previous study of the target language is not required.

About the Author

As a Trinity mom for 14 years and teacher for 15, Blair Gilchrist is deeply committed to the school’s mission and community. She and husband Daniel love cooking, running, and visiting their sons at college. Blair is also an avid reader and traveler and is a super mom-fan of the Hokies and the Fighting Irish!

About Trinity Christian School

Pursuing Excellence for Mind and Heart

K-12 Independent Christian School in Northern Virginia

Located just over 20 miles southwest from Washington, D.C., 10 miles south of Route 66 in Fairfax, and 10 miles west of the Capital Beltway

Educating students to the glory of God by pursuing excellence for mind and heart since 1987



A 2019 National Blue Ribbon School