Chasing the American dream | Lynn Dittel's Story

Updated: Sep 9, 2021

ASSIST Program's story begins in Germany back in 1969! Today, I would love to present to you the experience of my friend Lynn Dittel:

Lynn(in the middle) in front of the gates of her awesome school - St. Catherine's School, welcomed by her host sisters

#Short Profile:

Home Country: Germany🇩🇪

Exchange Program: ASSIST Program🇺🇸

School during exchange year: St. Catherine's School, Richmond, Virginia, USA🇺🇸

Favorite food I explored abroad: Chick-fil-A's milkshakes🥤

Favorite school activity: Political Awareness Club🌍

Favorite person from my exchange year: Avery, my best friend, and basically all my teachers, I loved them 👩👩‍🏫

My dream College/Major: Arts/Fashion at PAC/Parsons School of Design 🎨/👗


Why did I decide to apply for an exchange year?

- My sister had done an exchange year with the ASSIST Program and seeing how much she had enjoyed the experience, I wanted to be able to go away for a year, too! And to get to know a whole different culture.

How did your parents react to your bold decision?

- They were really supportive and have always tried to make anything for educational purposes possible for me!

Tell me a funny moment of your adventure abroad!

- I don’t remember a particular moment, but I can recall that I always loved advisory, because I knew we’d have a lot of fun there!

Here is probably another new term for future exchange students in the United States. Advisory is a period for students from all grades in high school, which takes part on a weekly basis. Teachers meet with small groups of students for the purpose of advising them on academic, social, or future-planning issues.

Lynn is undoubtedly one of the most proactive people I have ever seen; in this picture, she is at a Female Empowerment Event at St. Catherine's School

What is one particular thing that impressed you the most?

-How involved the teachers were with the students and with us doing well at school and in our private life!

Lynn stayed with the Mitchell family. Here they are at a UVA football game; GO CAVALIERS!

What was the coolest new thing you tried or experienced abroad?

- I went to a lot of college football and basketball games. I even got to go to an Ariana Grande's concert, which was amazing.

I am jealous of Lynn 😁 While I used to go to the all-boy Saint Christopher's School, Lynn was a student at the all-girl         St. Catherine's School, a quarter of a mile away; her host brother was a college football player, and she had the great chance to watch some exciting football games. 🏈

Homecoming is an eagerly anticipated event in all high schools across the United States

One advice about overcoming homesickness!

- Don’t feed into it by looking at old photos or constantly texting people at home. Try making your new surroundings you meet your new home!

Who was your favorite teacher? Try to describe them, using 3 words!

- Mrs McAleer, my English teacher! In 3 words - kind, ambitious, and understanding

What was your hardest moment during your exchange year and how you dealt with it?

- A lot of the times, I felt like a lot of people didn‘t like me very much. At the time, I just stuck it out and tried to distance myself from this feeling. But looking back, I realize that I should’ve tried to focus on my closest friends more, to spend more time with them, and to deepen the connections I had already made instead of focusing on those that I still wanted to make.

Lynn loves meeting new people, and she had the chance to forge many friendships in her community abroad

How does your exchange year reflect on your choice to continue your academic career in college?

- I have always known that I wanted to study abroad. Before my exchange year, I had wanted to study biomedicine at Stanford; however, I realized later that I didn’t want my future occupation to be in the field of science and rather work in the art scene. Moreover, I realized that I didn‘t prefer the US over Europe either—and that’s okay. Without my exchange year, I might have gone to college in the US and realized I had made the wrong decision too late. I still would go to the US for college if accepted into one of the top art schools like Parsons School of Design, but I would prefer studying in big European cities like Paris, Berlin, Vienna, or even London.

Give to future applicants and their parents one reason why kids should apply for an exchange year!

- I think it is extremely important to be able to get to know as many cultures as possible and travel a lot at a young age. Not only does it teach you social competence, but it also offers you a wider perspective and an experience that will positively shape you for the rest of your life... and make you a lot more independent.

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