By SOPHIA HUO
“I’ll never get to experience what it really feels like to be a second semester senior…but I guess you could say I win at senioritis because I’m dipping from school for all of second semester,” said Carmel Lee (2016). At the end of first semester, Carmel moved to Zurich, Switzerland and will stay there for around six months. Her dad, a professor at the University of California, Irvine, was offered a sabbatical, a period of paid leave for travel, teaching, researching and study.
The process began last year, when Carmel was a junior. “The opportunity to leave normal school to travel and experience Europe was an easy decision to agree to, especially under the stressful and intense workload as a junior,” she said. But as the time to leave got closer and closer, it became harder for her to believe that she was actually going to live in another country.
Two weeks before she left, Carmel spoke of cherishing the time and moments she had with friends. “I’ll miss spontaneous adventures, rolling down the windows and blasting music in cars and late night boba runs. I’ll even miss the intense study sessions and just the everyday life at Uni. Basically, I am feeling everything that the Class of 2016 will be feeling, 5 months early.”
To prepare for the move, Carmel had to make arrangements to ensure that she had all the credits necessary to graduate while also working on college applications. “I am going to be continuing school there, though with a much smaller workload. I will be finishing AP Lit and be taking a Photojournalism class, both online, which will allow me to graduate with the rest of my class in June,” she said.
She will also be auditing classes at the University of Zurich and hopes to find an internship. In June, she will return to Irvine to visit friends and walk at the graduation ceremony, something she is eagerly anticipating.
In addition, there are multiple things Carmel is looking forward to once she settles down in Switzerland. “I just love adventure, especially outdoors, so I look forward to hiking, running and skiing in one of the most beautiful places on Earth.” Because of Switzerland’s proximity to various Western European countries, Carmel will also be able to visit Austria, France, Germany or Italy on weekend trips and experience the culture and art the countries have to offer. She is also excited to learn German. “By the end of my stay in Zurich, I hope to have finished a book documenting my experience with photos, writing, poetry and art.”
Carmel sees the importance this “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity can serve in bettering herself. “I know I will really appreciate this trip because traveling to new places has the ability to change a person. I am really excited to experience living in a different country, something that I think is very essential in having an open mind to new cultures, customs and perspectives. I am hoping to pursue English in college, and this global experience will definitely help me grow as a writer, as I will have more time to read and write while I am there.”
She adds, “I am going to miss everything that everyone is doing, but [will also experience things] that no one else gets to.”