By Kayla Miron
While most East students report regular feelings of exhaustion, sophomore Adriana Lorenzini and junior Amos Pomp must tackle culture and language gaps in addition to the usual struggles of high school. Instead of taking classes in Chapel Hill, Lorenzini and Pomp are currently studying abroad in Germany and Israel respectively.
Lorenzini left on her 10-month program to Vreden, Germany in early August, hopeful that the experience would help her become a better global citizen. She departed hoping to sharpen her unrefined desire to work in European politics. She also hopes that studying abroad will also allow her better cultural understanding and appreciation.
“I’m here in Germany because I want to witness a new culture, learn a new language, and participate in traditions which are different from those in the United States” said Lorenzini. “I want to be part of German culture and learn from it and I do not want to be too close-minded and set in my ways to appreciate it. I am still figuring out who I am, and I know that this year abroad will help me to do that.”
Pomp reports similar desires to better acquaint himself with other cultures. His main drive to study abroad, however, stemmed from a yearning to become better connected with his religious heritage. Following in his father’s footsteps, as his father spent time in Israel in high school, served as a motivator for Pomp. Exploring the birthplace of Judaism, a religion to which he feels culturally, spiritually and familially connected, however, truly inspired Pomp to live in a kibbutz, or Jewish commune for a semester and take classes in the outskirts of Jerusalem.
“Learning about the collective memory of the Jewish people in a place rich in relevant historical sites is a surreal experience” admitted Pomp.
His trip, so far, has afforded him many opportunities for self-reflection in addition to cultural exploration. Instead of seeing his friends and family every day, Pomp has explored living on his own. In reinventing himself overseas, Pomp has explored his identity in a context other than at home in North Carolina. He expects the rest of his trip to challenge him, but he remains hopeful that he will return to North Carolina better in touch with himself and his heritage.
“I am already exhausted all the time, and starting the difficult journey that is junior year in a foreign country has been a little overwhelming at times,” disclosed Pomp. “But I know that it is going to be an extremely rewarding experience in so many ways.”
Both students stress the rewards offered by studying abroad, and while they both remain at the beginning of their journeys, they remain confident in their decisions to study away. They felt that Chapel Hill could not single-handedly prepare them to become the most well-rounded and culturally literate people possible, so took the agency to experience the world for themselves.
“You can’t learn about a nation simply from a textbook or a class,” stressed Lorenzini. “You have to travel and live in a country to really understand it.”
In an increasingly interdependent planet, cultural literacy and understanding become continually more important. While many students wait to travel the world in college, these East students have put themselves in greater cultural context in high school.