This summer, two KO seniors took their Martin Nicholson Scholarship stipends around the world, pursuing study abroad programs focused on language immersion. Senior Audrey Karasik spent five weeks studying French in Paris, France, and senior Emma Barringer spent four weeks studying Chinese in Beijing, China.
Audrey participated in a French immersion program through the organization EF Education First. During her five-week immersion, Audrey stayed with a host family 20 minutes outside of Paris and took classes at a school in the city every weekday. Each day, Audrey underwent an hour-long commute to classes and attended four different classes focused on general French, grammar, communications, and vocabulary.
While she fine-tuned her French speaking skills in the classroom, Audrey attributes much of her growth to the fluency she gained by living immersed in French culture with a French host family. “Before I went to France, I think that my French was a bit lackluster,” Audrey said. “I could communicate but I could not express myself properly. At the beginning, I was speaking to my host parents who have been doing this forever, and then at the end we were able to have full conversations, and that was really cool.” Audrey entered her program at a proficiency level of A2-2, based on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. Upon completion of the program, Audrey’s proficiency reached a level of B1, which is one level away from complete fluency.
Outside of the classroom, Audrey enjoyed exploring Paris and its many artistic, culinary, and cultural landmarks. Audrey’s favorite memory from her time abroad took place with her friends and roommates one Friday after classes. They spent their day enjoying the artwork at The Petit Palais, eating macarons, and visiting a local carnival. “I felt like I was 10 years old, having the best time ever,” Audrey said. “They were my family for those five weeks.”
One continent over, Emma immersed herself in the Chinese language and culture during her four-week experience in Beijing, China. While taking classes, Emma had the opportunity to live with her aunt and uncle who are diplomats for the United States Department of State. The neighborhood in which they lived was home to many diplomats, which added another positive layer to Emma’s stay in Beijing. “Not only did I improve in my Chinese speaking and understanding of the culture,” Emma shared, “but I also got more insight into what a career in foreign service could look like because of the amount of people that I met.”
During her stay, Emma took four-hour Chinese language classes each weekday at The Bridge School in Beijing. Similar to Audrey, Emma achieved her major study abroad goal of increasing her fluency level in the Chinese language.
Once her classes and studying were complete, Emma spent most of her time in their local province of Chaoyang; she enjoyed visiting local cafés, restaurants, art districts, and shopping centers. On the weekends, Emma visited various historic sites in China, such as the Great Wall of China, the Forbidden City, and the Summer Palace.
Audrey encouraged students interested in studying abroad to find joy in all of the risks, nerves, and excitement that come with the process. “Do something that you’re very scared of,” she said, “because those are the things that are the most rewarding.” Emma echoed Audrey’s sentiments and spoke about the value of embracing challenges and new experiences. “Be willing and open to everything,” Emma said. “Whether it’s trying a new food or speaking a different language, you want to just not be afraid to make a mistake. The only thing you can do is improve.”