Tools to Grow
Looking back on my semester abroad, I realize that from day 1 to day 80, I was being given the tools to become a true citizen of the world. Being placed outside of my comfort zone only enabled me to embrace my attributes and garner trust and strength of conviction. I am grateful to say that this experience has given me the confidence to excel in university and beyond.
An Education Like No Other
The MEI Big Year was one of the best decisions I have made in my life. There truly are no words that can fully capture the thrilling and adventure-filled year I got to experience while backpacking through 11 different countries, cultures, and climates. From running along the Great Wall to lectures inside the Colosseum, MEI is an education like no other. On my Big Year, I got to gain worldly knowledge from teachers who were passionate about what they were sharing. Every morning I woke up excited to explore and discover the history of the country I was in. Learning about the Vietnam war (while crawling through the Cu Chi tunnels), trading stocks in the heart of Sydney, and re-enacting Greek plays overlooking crystal blue Grecian waters, were things I had never experienced in other schools. Looking back now, I am grateful that my Big Year brought me lifelong friendships and showed me a reason to say that I enjoy learning. MEI gave me the experience to know that true education is never ending.
Truly Life Changing
MEI absolutely blew me away. It’s truly life changing, to experience a place you’ve never been to with people you’ve never met. Being pushed outside of my comfort zone is what allowed me to realize that I’m capable of more than I thought, and I’m a lot more adventurous. Traveling opens your eyes to what the rest of the world has to offer, and I don’t think there’s a better way to do it than with people who are at the same stage in life as you are. We became a family on this trip, and that’s something I wouldn’t trade for anything.
Best Possible Way of Learning
I found MEI to be the best possible way of learning: full of adventure, friendships, and knowledge. I will cherish the memories I have made on my adventures for the rest of my life. On each MEI program I’ve had such amazing experiences with wonderful people. My teachers always showed such interest and excitement for each topic, which helped me to understand and enjoy every lesson. MEI will always be a second home to me!
MEI transformed our daughter’s understanding of where she stands in the world both literally and figuratively. After two semesters of exciting new lecture sites, museums, and scavenger hunts, she now takes pride in navigating the spaces she inhabits, checking out maps and creating a plan for what is next. It has been the fine-tuning of her inner compass that has most astounded us: her passion for learning, her care for people around the world and her desire to make a difference. As a parent, I couldn’t be prouder of her and thankful for the role MEI and their outstanding faculty has played in helping her hone her place on the map.
My Big Year Experience
The Big Year is unlike any other experience offered to high school students. It takes you out of the classroom you’ve grown so accustomed to and throws you full-fledged into the world. The Big Year taught me a whole side of Eastern history that would never have been a part of my curriculum otherwise. There’s nothing quite like sitting down in the middle of the Forbidden City with tourists swarming around you learning about the history of the towering red walls and the Great Leader that built them. There’s nothing like sprinting through Venice on a scavenger hunt; cursing the tourist-filled alleyways; trying to find a lost relic or statue from another time; the group dynamic you develop; the family you become. The Big Year throws you into such a diverse group of people that are all so unique with strong characters. I never thought I would ever meet people like the one’s I did. Meeting such interesting people allowed me to uncover a side of myself I never knew existed. The program changes you in the best way possible and really helps you come into your own. Our teachers curated student-teacher relationships unlike anything I had ever been able to develop in a normal high school setting. Your teachers become your mentors as well as your friends. They’re the ones you sit down with when you’re working through an essay, they’re the ones you exchange toe rings with or take you to the doctor when you need one. They care. They care so much about students. Everyone does; if ever you’re feeling upset or alone it is such a wonderful and comforting thing to know you can turn to absolutely anyone on the trip. The Big Year is exactly that, it’s a BIG year. Students can expect to meet people unlike anyone they’ve ever known and see places so incredible they couldn’t even fathom it before seeing it with their own eyes. It is everything I’ve said and so much more. It is truly the experience of a lifetime, and I feel so privileged to have experienced it.
This program is the highlight of my life this far, and such an amazing experience. There’s nothing like learning about an event where it happened! The teaching was so engaging, and I’m so thankful for everything that I was able to experience.
Memories Will Stay Forever
This program allowed me to really get out of my comfort zone and meet new people. This trip truly changed my life in the way that I made some lifelong friends and learned so much about the world. The people and teachers on this trip were so amazing. I would give anything to be back on the trip right now. Sitting out front of Dachau concentration camp learning about what happened or taking the Third Reich Walk around Munich where Hitler stood was truly incredible. The teachers really knew what they were talking about and were always willing to lend a helping hand. They really wanted the best for us and would help us at any time of the day. This trip was amazing and the memories will stay with me forever!
My Adventure Down Under was the most unforgettable experience of my life. I was very fortunate to receive by far the best education and one-on-one teaching I’ve ever had, not to mention the bucket list adventures I experienced. It was something special to scuba dive in the Great Barrier Reef and climb the breathtaking views of the Blue Mountains, all the while being surrounded by people who all felt like family within days. Those bonds will last a lifetime. It didn’t feel like the regular “classroom” learning here. I was an avid and motivated student; more than ever I wanted to listen and be taught. What I was learning here was tangible and exciting. The challenges I was faced with are something I can be proud of overcoming. I will hold my MEI trip close to my heart for the rest of my life.
Independence. Self-confidence. Mental toughness. Determination. These are the qualities our three children came back with after MEI. They will tell you it was the best high school academic experience that they have had and they would highly recommend it to anyone. MEI was about being held accountable to their high academic standards while getting the support and push from the competent teaching staff. It was about learning the value of hard work, moving out of their comfort zones, forging new friendships, and working together. They are mentally stronger and better equipped to take on whatever life throws their way. If you’re looking for an enhanced education for your child, we highly recommend MEI Academy.
The Personal Touch
My three months with MEI Academy were the most memorable, interesting, and inspiring months of my life thus far. This experience made me believe that good teachers exist. I learned more during my three months with MEI than I had in the previous three years of school. I developed a genuine bond with my teachers who put my success first and worked hard to make me feel engaged and interested. They quickly became familiar with my personal needs, and helped me develop the specific knowledge and skills in order to achieve and exceed my goals. The locations we visited were incredible and tied in perfectly with the academic content we were studying. The guidance of intelligent and thoughtful people has forever changed my perception of the world and the people in it.
Fun, Supportive and Fast-Paced
The teachers were awesome! They were fun and supportive but also pushed us academically—I learned more in 35 days than I have in 3 years of high school. The Business course was fast-paced starting with mock stock trading in New York to sales negotiating for real estate and fine goods, (and a little bit of bartering) in the Beijing Silk Market. I found myself doing things that I’ve never done before, and this really gave me an idea of what it will be like when I go off to university. For anyone considering taking courses outside of regular high school, MEI is your only option!
The teachers…the amazing and out-of this-world teachers…well, Giulia cannot stop talking about them. THANK YOU to the teachers for all of their hard work with keeping Giulia safe, happy and marking the assignments in a timely manner. As well, the comments and feedback for the assignments were so thorough and mindful—truly outstanding!
Something Very Special
I have been part of the MEI family for over a decade now, as both a student and teacher. While it’s always tough to pinpoint a highlight, my experience on the Expedition in Tanzania program this summer was something very special. The role of the teacher has changed over the years, and my job is more about facilitation and allowing students to make their own informed decisions about the world and the issues that surround them. We’re living in a time where a World Issues course feels so urgent and relevant, and to be able to talk with students about globalization, activism, sustainability, or immigration, surrounded by the diverse and incredible landscape of Tanzania, is something I will always remember.
Why Choose an MEI Big Year?
I never thought that a beach in Vietnam, a tree in the Daintree Forest, an ancient park in Beijing used for sacrifice thousands of years ago, or simply the grass beneath the Eiffel Tower could be a lecture spot; but MEI showed me that it doesn’t take a desk and chair to have the ability to learn something new. Being exposed firsthand to the way and places others live makes you appreciate not only how lucky you are, but how much of a difference your life can make in the world. Never in my life did I think I would enjoy going to school or voicing my opinions, but within a week of my trip I was infatuated with learning. MEI Academy made me who I am now, and I am eternally grateful for every experience, memory and ounce of happiness this trip—and the people I’ve met along the way—have given me.