Friday, April 13, 2012

The Decision and Applying

Okay, so I've decided to detail for those who don't know as much about the process what it's been like, starting from the beginning. How, you might be wondering, did she decide to do this? Well, it was really my mom's idea. We were on the plane a few months ago coming back from vacation and I was saying that we should do something next year, since she won't be teaching. Go to France or back to Cambridge or something. She said that my dad didn't want to go anywhere because he didn't want to leave his lab. Then she suggested that I do a study abroad program if I wanted to go to France so much. I don't think that she was really serious, but I was and I started researching as soon as we got home, typing "Semester in Paris" into the search box and gradually widening my criteria. The next step for me was deciding what program to go with. I was already set on France because I take French in school and it is the only country that I could see leaving home for that long to visit. I considered a few others that were considerably more budget friendly than AFS but in the end, AFS was the only one that my guidance counselor had heard of and seemed like the only one that was credible. So I did some more research.
In the online application, once I had submitted my preliminary application and received access to the full application, there are 13 sections to complete: Cover (a cover photo), Personal (stuff like family members, address, etc.), Placement (stuff like allergies, religious preference, animals, food), Health certificates, Self intro (my letter to my host family in English and French), Photo (10 photos of me doing favorite activities or hanging out with friends and family), Parent statement, Authorization form, Academic record, Participation agreement, Consent, Letter of recommendation, and Passport. All of the requisite documents had to be scanned in. My application took a few weeks of collecting, printing, signing, stamping, and scanning. When it was finally done, I submitted it--a little more than two weeks before the deadline. Of course, before applying I discussed going to France with my parents. They are a little freaked out by the idea of being empty nesters three years earlier than they thought they would be--and I'm a little freaked out about leaving. But we're all agreed that this is going to be an amazing experience and that it is worth it. They are also sponsoring my trip, and told me that they didn't want me to raise the money myself. Not sure why, but I'm not complaining!!


  1. Good luck with the experience. I ended up teaching English in France for two years and I'm dying to return!

    -Barb the French Bean

  2. Hey Sarah, it's Harper McFadden from Aloha! I am applying to go to South Africa for spring semester last year and saw you on the Ask an AFSer facebook page! Are you gonna be at camp with summer?

  3. Hey, Harper!!! I will be at camp. It was a condition of my studying abroad that I could be there full session. My guidance counselor thought I was crazy. Are you? Clubber, right?

  4. Hey there was no way I was gonna miss out on my club summer. And I am applying for the spring semester. My school is really small (120 kids) so they really support us going away for semesters or years in different programs, but some people still think i'm a a little crazy.

    1. My school is huge (1400 kids) and they were a little freaked out but I convinced them it would be a good thing to do.