Seniors return to native lands for college

Liza Rodler

In most cases, venturing abroad for college would add to the stress and excitement of leaving one’s family, but for two seniors, it may be more akin to coming home.

While 39% of the class of 2012 will be attending an out of state college next year, a mere three students will be packing their bags for universities that are overseas.

Two of them have previously lived in the country they’re going to. Senior Gioia Zitzlaff will be going to school in Australia and senior Hannah Daffern will be attending a school in Scotland this fall. Senior Dylan Basdeo will be going to the University of British Columbia.

Zitzlaff, an Australia native, moved to the United States in seventh grade and will be applying to Melbourne University in August. In Australia, students take tests comparable to the SAT and ACT at the end of 12th grade and apply to colleges in the fall, but Zitzlaff said she has met all the requirements for being accepted and is nearly sure she will be enrolling at Melbourne next year.

Zitzlaff said she decided to return to Australia for college after considering the same factors that lead many American citizens to stay in their state.

“Heading into junior year, [returning to Australia] was a very big possibility, and then once I started researching everything – how much it would cost for me to go to college here versus in Australia, and all the different opportunities I would be given in Australia and not here – it just started becoming more and more of the better choice for me,” Zitzlaff said.

According to Zitzlaff, her family liked the idea of her returning to Australia so much that her parents and sister decided to move back to their hometown of Melbourne as well.

Similarly, Daffern, who moved to the United States from the United Kingdom at age six, will attend St. Andrews University in Scotland this fall. Daffern said she probably will not experience as much of a culture shock as others would studying abroad, especially considering the fact that she has been living in a “British household” her entire life.

However, Daffern said that she still has all the typical college jitters.

“I’m nervous the same way anyone else would be, going into a completely new place where I don’t know anyone,” Daffern said. “So it’s the same nerves everyone else has – meeting new people, being in a completely foreign place, but college is foreign to everyone.”

Zitzlaff said that even after spending over six years in the United States, she is more accustomed to being in Australia, but she acknowledged that she will still need to readjust to Australian culture.

“Getting accustomed to a completely new way of life again, and culturally going back into the Australian life and also college life will be exciting because it is so different,” Zitzlaff said.

Daffern said that she has always had a desire to return to the U.K. at some point in her life.

“I moved here when I was six, so I did the whole American high school thing, and I just wanted to go back and do the whole European college thing, considering I have both citizenships and would consider myself both American and British,” Daffern said. “I didn’t really have my official decision until this year, but I feel like I always wanted to go back.”

In addition to craving the U.K.’s signature fish ‘n’ chips, Daffern said she misses seeing her family on a regular basis. She said that having many of her relatives just a four-hour train ride from St. Andrews was a deciding factor in her school selection.

“If I didn’t have family over there and I got sick or something, that would make me really nervous because I wouldn’t have anywhere to go or anyone to turn to,” Daffern said. “I’d be super alone. But now I can just hop on a plane and stay at my grandparents’ house for the weekend.”

One of the things Zitzlaff said she misses most about Australia is the sense of community and more relaxed atmosphere. Zitzlaff said that while there is a lot of pressure to play multiple sports, complete community service, and focus intensely on academics in America, Australia offers a much more laid-back sense of community.

“I’m looking forward to going home and just breathing,” Zitzlaff said.