By Chloe Drescher
Assistant Editor for Promotions
Are you willing to abandon not only your friends and family, but also the memories of senior year? Austin Zmolek and Arielle Nagar are two students from Jamesville-Dewitt High School who decided to study abroad their senior year. Zmolek and Nagar set their year abroad up with Rotary Club last year, as juniors. The Rotary Club is an organization that Zmolek and Nagar went through, which sets up the year abroad.
Zmolek and Nagar were able to choose from six countries. Nagar is studying in Brescia, Italy, which was her top choice. Zmolek is studying in Copenhagen, Denmark, which was not one of his top six choices. His top six choices were: Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Argentina, Spain and Italy (in that order.) However, that didn’t damper his enthusiasm. “I was very excited to follow through with my exchange year even though I may not have gotten a country I had requested,” he says.
Zmolek and Nagar decided to go abroad to experience something new. “I wanted to learn about a different culture and meet new people from around the world,” says Nagar. She wanted to “experience something like this and see something new,” Nagar said. Zmolek was influenced more by one of his friends that went abroad in the past. He also thought of it as “a Cody Banks/James Bond challenge.” Zmolek was ready to get out of his typical schedule and go somewhere new to do new things.
At first, it was difficult for Zmolek and Nagar to adjust to a new lifestyle. Zmolek’s host family is the Kampfeldts. They live in Hillerod, Denmark. Zmolek has two “siblings:” a brother, Mads who is 18, and a sister, Mie, who is 16. “They are a traditional Danish family, they have strict demands and busy schedules,” he says; “It has taken me a long time to get used to living here in their house, and I am still not totally comfortable and adapted to their lives.”
Nagar describes adjusting to Italy as very overwhelming. “I couldn’t understand what anyone was saying, but every day it’s gotten better,” Nagar says. She adds that she has met “such generous and kind people that she hopes to stay in contact with them for a long time.” Her host family consists of a mother and a father and their only daughter, who went to Oswego on exchange this year. “My host family is very welcoming and helpful,” says Nagar. Zmolek and Nagar both agree that every day is so much better than the last because each day they become more familiar with the language and people.
The schooling in Denmark and Italy is very different than J-DHS. Zmolek attends Frederiksborg Gymnasium as a second year student, studying fitness and biology. He describes the schooling system as very liberal. “Since most Danes do not attend a university after gymnasium, students get to pick a major for their studies,” he says. As for classwork, Zmolek says students only use computers for classwork and homework. “In school we are allowed to be on our phones whenever we want,” Zmolek says. During Zmolek’s school day the students can have beer, and it is also offered at school dances and parties.
Nagar attends a private school in Brescia which is very small. “There are only around 180 students,” she says, adding, “everything here is a lot smaller than the US.” She and Zmolek stay in one classroom the entire day. One difference at Nagars school is that they do not provide lunch for their students.
In the short time that Zmolek and Nagar have been abroad, they have been introduced to a new experience. “I am going to be going on a trip to Faenza with all of the exchange students in Italy,” says Nagar. Nagar adds that she is “excited to go on this trip because she will get to meet students from around the world.” Zmoleks favorite thing so far is the transportation system. “They have a metro system, a railroad system, and a very reliable and safe bussing system,” Zmolek says.
For anyone, leaving your typical schedule is a difficult decision. “I have definitely had the hardest month of my life since I have been here,” says Zmolek. However, Zmolek feels that going to a new culture has taught him more life lessons and given him more knowledge than any teacher, book or any education could provide to him. Nagar describe her life in Italy as being able to experience different things that she wouldn’t have done back home. “Yes, these first few weeks were hard, but it’s over now and there is so much more to see and do,” says Nagar.