Desperately Seeking Semester School

I am currently on spring break away from Chewonki Semester School. It's amazing there, but a break is needed especially from a consistently below freezing climate.

The concept of a semester school, at least for me, is relatively new. It's not quite abroad (well, some schools are), but it's not the normal high school experience either. Personally, semester schools seem like a mix between a fancy boarding and vocational school. The schools that are listed below all focus on something. They have some shtick. For Chewonki, it's wilderness, the Island School, it's marine biology, and CITYterm, New York is the interest.

But, why? Why go to a semester school? Why not just do a semester or year abroad? (That sounds so pretentious when you say it out loud).

Well, I don't have an exact answer for you. Personally, I wanted to do something different with my Junior year. A semester abroad was very alluring, but something really stood out to me about Chewonki.

Semester schools draw a certain person. I've been told they can be harder than even an abroad experience. Hearing this was a surprise, but when you think about it - it's not too surprising. When you're abroad, you have a certain pass to be awkward and lost in a new culture and language. A semester school starts with no leeway and with minimal acclimation. A semester school experience begins in the deep end then makes you do laps. Let us not forget the semester schools that are abroad though. How amazing and shocking they must be!

Semester Schools are quite unique and something usually only experienceable for Juniors in high school. So, why not do something that you'll never have the opportunity to experience again?

Now without farther adieu, some semester schools of interest:

*Financial Aid Offered

This semester school is all about New York City. Imagine weekly trips into the Big Apple while staying in boarding school accommodations close by. CITYterm is especially cool because Seniors can go too! Theses semesters are thirty students that are drawn from all over the globe. Honestly, I do not know that much about CITYterm. Many people at my school were interested in applying, but never got around to it. It definitely is an atypical high school experience. Unless you are already from New York I suppose.

Main Take Aways: Urban Education Core, Experiencing New York City

Chewonki Semester School
*Financial Aid Offered

What can I say? Want to learn about sustainable agriculture, field research, and wilderness survival? Chewonki will be right up your alley. Located in Wiscasset, Maine, Chewonki Semester School is currently celebrating its twenty-fifth anniversary, so now is the perfect time to apply. It's a great program but not for everyone. I have some friends that would hate it. At times, the cabins are cold, the meals lack some meat, and we are out of farm fresh milk (it's a struggle for some), but it's all worth it because at the end of the day, you feel like you've accomplished something. Whether it's splitting wood, doing farm work, or cooking everyone dinner, you get stuff done at Chewonki.

Maine Take Aways: Organic Farming, Wilderness Exploration

The Island School
*Very Interesting Take on Financial Aid

The Island School is beautiful. It is simply beautiful. It is in the Bahamas and focuses on marine biology and conservation. I love the location and concept. It is relatively young (established in 1999), but has blossomed into a large operation. It accepts both Sophomores and Juniors, and houses them in amazing, green designed buildings. It is similar to Chewonki in this aspect. Enjoy the beach while learning how to save it. How wonderful does that sound?

Main Take Aways: Marine Life, The Bahamas, Conservation

Swiss Semester
*Financial Aid ... Possibly? I do not really know. Tuition if you are from an Affiliated School is handled differently than if not.

This is not a camp, nor a travel agency, and especially not an all expenses paid ski trip. The Swiss Semester website makes that clear. Just for Sophomores, the Swiss Semester does do trips around the Zermatt, Switzerland (where it's located) and its neighboring countries, offers skiing opportunities galore, and forges through outdoor adventures like mountain climbing, but its main focus is independence. The Swiss Semester hopes to broaden its students' minds through experiential and personal growth. Live in the Alps, learn about other cultures, but focus on challenging and learning about yourself! It can certainly be a great start to your high school experience.

Main Take Aways: Adventurous, Alpine Lifestyle, Transformative Growth

The Mountain School
*Similar System to the Island School Regarding Financial Aid

Much like Chewonki, the Mountain School's focuses are sustainable living and education through nature. Located in Vermont, the school is somewhat void of technology like some other semester schools *cough Chewonki *cough. The semester is forty-five students, but this small number in extensive wilderness is actually quite nice if I do say so myself. It gives a much needed solitude from the chaotic world that is Junior year and teenage life in general. If you want to try living in nature, take a peak at the Mountain School.

Main Take Aways: Natural Living, Forest Education
These descriptions are merely summaries if not less. The schools are presented to be at least noticed. My home school is not very vocal about experiences such as these. By just stating that they exist with a little explanation, I hope to make your search for an adventure of a lifetime a little easier. I hope I did them justice.

Sorry for the lack of posts recently. School is work, as well as wood processing, farm chores, and relative life. I'm on break and working on a few projects and pieces I think you'll find interesting. Only time will tell if you'll enjoy them! I'll be back in the Midwest for a bit, but then am leaving for New York City to meet with some Chewonki people and my sister before heading back to the farm. More articles to come especially with awesome opportunities like these. ¬°Tchau! *My Portuguese is coming along ...

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