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ELC Santa Barbara Student Spotlight: Solenn Read February 9th, 2016
Where are you from? Tell us a little about yourself…

My name is Solenn Read, and I’m nineteen years old. I am from a little town located next to Waterloo in Belgium. I just finished high school last year and now I am taking a sabbatical year. I am staying in Santa Barbara for 5 months. I am here mostly to improve my English obviously, but also because I had a difficult last year. I wanted to go far away from my hometown to start over. I needed some fresh air!

I wanted to concentrate on my life for a year and travel abroad to discover new cultures, landscapes, and so on. This year will also give me the time to mull over various options that I have because I don’t know what I will do later.

What are your hobbies?

My biggest hobby is dancing. I used to dance a lot. I was actually part of a group called “Pre-Professional” that prepares little dancers to become a prima ballerina. I did a lot of competitions, the experience was incredible. I stopped three years ago, first because I did not completely recover from a broken ankle and also because I realized that it was really hard to live for your passion, especially in sports, because as soon as you have a health problem your career is done!  So, I chose to focus on my studies. Otherwise I really love traveling abroad. I truly appreciate the moments with my friends, and music in general, especially singing.

Do you have any hidden talents?

I honestly don’t think so. I am a pretty ordinary person.

Did you experience culture shock when you came to the USA?

I can’t really say that it was a real “culture shock”. It is true that I was a little bit disoriented for the first few days because what I was experiencing was unfamiliar.  The language barrier didn’t help in the beginning, and I often felt a little homesick.  I had a hard time accepting the idea that I would be far away from my relatives for five months.  However, my host family has a similar way of life as mine so it made me very comfortable!  With a little perseverance, I quickly felt better.

What do you miss about your country?

I obviously miss my family, my friends, and my boyfriend. I also miss the meals cooked by my mother or grandmother. I really miss my car as well. I miss the parties with my friends, my dance classes, and my cat, too.

What is your favorite food?

I don’t really know. I don’t have a favorite meal, but I would say I love sushi. I also really appreciated the Thanksgiving dinner. It was so delicious! I hope I have the opportunity to celebrate Thanksgiving again to enjoy the food. I am sure that I will miss the food that I have here with my host family because they cook very well.  I am very lucky because it’s very healthy.

Why did you choose Santa Barbara?

First of all, as I said before, I wanted to go far away from Belgium. And then, I don’t know why, but I’ve always wanted to go to California since I was a child so I took the opportunity!  Finally, I decided to come to Santa Barbara because it’s not a big city like Los Angeles or San Diego, and I don’t have to spend my time in traffic. I prefer small cities where everyone knows each other. Santa Barbara also has very good weather.

What do you like about ELC?

What I like about ELC is that it’s the only school that makes me happy to wake up in the morning to attend classes. We actually learn English while having fun and that makes ELC an amazing school. The teachers are extremely friendly and welcoming. They always do their best to help students. They are devoted and always concerned about the well being of the students. The fact that ELC is an international language school is great when you’re willing to learn more about different cultures because students are from all around the world. Finally, the school also offers many activities after school, and we always have a great time.

What advice would you give to prospective students?

I truly recommend that everyone should do what I’m doing right now at least once in their lives because it’s simply the most beautiful experience I’ve ever had. But if I can give one advice, it is that students should do everything from speaking and living all in English. You have to practice all the time.  Even though it’s really hard, they won’t improve their English as much as they are expecting to improve.

Solenn Read SB Student Spotlight