Briana Hoek is heading to France for the 2014-15 school year

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  • Briana Hoek will study in France for her senior year of high school.



Briana Hoek, a junior at West Milford High School, will be studying in France for the 2014-2015 school year, completing her senior year of high school abroad. Through an organization called Study Year Abroad, which has been sending students all over the world since 1964, Briana will be attending school in Rennes, the capital city of the Brittany region of France. It is an American school, although classes are administered in French, which will allow her to gain the credits required for graduation and enable her to graduate from West Milford High School with the rest of her class when she returns at the end of May in 2015.

Study Year Abroad is an independent organization which has schools in France, Italy, Spain and China, sending approximately 260 students abroad every year, with more programs that run over the summer. After discovering the program online, Briana applied in early February. She also applied for the Halsey scholarship; a full scholarship that is given to one student every year and covers the entire cost of the trip, save for personal spending money, which totals over $50,000. This scholarship allows students, who would otherwise not be able to afford the trip, a unique opportunity to immerse themselves in a culture and become fluent in the language of their country.

At the end of February, she received a phone call that she was that student and had been chosen as the recipient of the scholarship.

While abroad, Briana will be taking classes in English literature and environmental science while also studying the language and culture of the region where she is residing. Other classes, including international affairs and French history, supplement cultural studies, and give the students in France the opportunity to take classes they might never have even thought of at home. Briana will also be living with a host family for the nine month duration of her stay, completing the cultural and lingual immersion, as will numerous school trips all over the country.

Having taken three years of French in high school and advanced history classes has prepared Briana to make the most of her year abroad. Listening to her French teacher, Mrs. Schopp, tell stories of her time studying abroad inspired Briana to do the same. Although she hadn't planned to continue with the language after middle school, she fell in love with French and has now studied the language for five years, while also working outside of school to prepare herself for her trip next year. Taking classes such as World and United States history have fostered a love of politics and international relations that will be built upon during the school year when Briana will have the opportunity to debate world issues at a Model United Nations conference in Lyon, France.

Briana will be departing in early September, a few days after the start of school in West Milford, and will return at the end of May. She will be blogging about her travels and will keep in touch with everyone at home.

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