Olivia in Paris

Olivia Dewar ’24 (right) said that “making meaningful relationships” was her number-one goal for her SYA experience.

“We were now soaked, salty and the words ‘I love France’ kept circulating their way around our group. Never in my life could I have imagined I would swim fully clothed in the Mediterranean, but Marseille brought about a whole new side of me I didn’t even know existed.” — Olivia Dewar

Olivia Dewar ’24 is a Campus Reporter for the SYA (School Year Abroad) France campus during the 2022-2023 school year, and returns to Peddie this fall. In her SYA blog posts, she’s sharing the richness of her experience in France — from adventure to surprises to pride. 

SYA, a nonprofit program established in 1964, affords Peddie juniors and seniors the unique opportunity to immerse themselves wholly in a new culture. While living with a host family and attending school, they build new-language skills, explore unusual cuisines, make friends and gain confidence.

“Before coming to SYA, I had a strong foundation of independence from growing up in an urban environment,” said Dewar. “But after arriving in a foreign country where English is not the primary language, I learned an entirely new set of skills when it came to navigating completely on my own.

“I think my confidence in myself and my abilities to learn and adapt have been the part of me that has changed the most.” 

Dewar’s warm and joyful posts illustrate her daily life in France, from the routine (“starting off my weekdays with a cup of cafe au lait or chocolat chaud alongside a buttered baguette”) to the silly (“We danced and nearly lost our voices singing along to ABBA, Lana Del Rey, Conan Gray and more. We even thrusted open the window to recreate the iconic Titanic pose as we played ‘My Heart Will Go On’”).

Her experience abroad is coming to a close, but Dewar has checked a special item off on her to-do list, one that will last after she boards the plane back to Les États-Unis.

“Making meaningful relationships was my number-one goal coming into this year,” she said. “I did not expect them to happen as fast as they did, but I could not be more grateful.”