Graduation Day: Every Which Way to College: the Non-Traditional Routes

Kalia Richardson, News Editor

One way ticket, please. When studying abroad, a single plane ride takes someone to anywhere they desire, leaving behind the American culture they’ve come prone to over the years. A journey so vast has a substantial purpose. For senior Fiona Stoerrdequeiro, home lies in Osnabrueck, Germany (Though born in Brazil, she moved to Germany at three). Stoerrdequeiro plans to live in the small town with her family and friends, which she visits every summer. Though she will depart from her mother, father and little sister, her close knit bonds established in Germany hold strong.

Beyond the association to family, Stoerrdequeiro’s travels are deeply rooted in her career path. She’s unsure of what she wants to pursue, but has a moral idea that can only be completed outside the U.S.

“My career is also a deciding factor. I want to be a teacher but I do not want to be a teacher here. Over there, teachers are very well respected, super well payed and have great benefits,” Stoerrdequeiro said.

Stoerrdequeiro’s aspirations do not end there; she plans to share her knowledge with a diversified audience. She currently speaks three languages: English, German and Portuguese and wants to learn a fourth language, Spanish. Within her study expenditures, she hopes to yield her knowledge in foreign language and reach out to students worldwide.

“I want to work my way up. I want to first teach at around high school age and then be a professional at a university and I want to share that with kids. I want to take time off and teach in underprivileged countries,” Stoerrdequeiro said.  

Senior Victoria Chenfan also wants to bring people together; she aspires to become a translator. Chenfan speaks Cantonese and seeks to improve her Mandarin, so in the fall she will attend Sun Yat-Sen University in Guangzhou, China. The school is held on high accord and she looks forward to attending.

“It is a really good school, it is like the UC Berkeley over there, [my friend] compares that school to UC Berkeley!” Chenfan said.

Among the excitement, her fluency in Cantonese will aid her when taking classes outside the foreigners program and making friends. Chenfan aspires to improve her Cantonese skills and as a result, she decides to immerse herself in Chinese culture.

While her parents were born there, Chenfan currently has no existing family there and attends a study abroad program, apprehensive about living alone.

“I’ve never lived on my own before, this is the first time I’m all on my own,” Chenfan said. “My parents are sending me a monthly allowance, enough for me to live,”.

In congruence with feeling lonesome, she sees no difference between study abroad programs and out of state schooling.

“I’m definitely going to miss them, I’m basically going to be all by myself. But that’s what everyone experiences when they go out of state,” Chenfan said. “I’ll just be like the people who go out of state for college.”

On the other hand, Stoerrdequeiro dislikes the school system in the U.S. and tries to escape it.

Germany has free public education. Here there’s more of a competition, Ivy vs State Schools…in Germany they’re all virtually the same education throughout,” Stoerrdequeiro said.

With her tuition free stay, she decides to rent out an apartment and live alone.

Fortunately, her family will assist her with all and any of her needs.

Senior Ruth Ferenczi, looks favorably to taking her gap year.

“Gap Years have a very negative stigma, it’s kinda like ‘oh, she doesn’t know what she wants to do yet,’ she’s not going to school right away. It’s very different, you take time to figure yourself out,” Ferenczi said.

For the select Palmetto seniors, studying beyond the borders of the 50 states presents an opportunity that the U.S. failed to offer. These students look to their non-traditional college route with optimism and positivity.

“I think it’s really cool to take some time off and do something really love an enjoy and just step out of the box,” Ferenczi said. “In reality, you’re never going to do it later in your life.”