Around The World In 15 Years

Two girls pose by a French monument.

Kayleigh (right) touring Paris with a friend during a basketball tournament. (Photo Courtesy of Kayleigh Zigler)

Hannah Seiken

Kayleigh (right) touring Paris with a friend during a basketball tournament. (Photo Courtesy of Kayleigh Zigler)
Kayleigh (right) touring Paris with a friend during a basketball tournament. (Photo Courtesy of Kayleigh Zigler)

She’s gone to intercontinental sports tournaments and ridden a camel in ancient ruins, but one thing sophomore Kayleigh Zigler has never done before this year is attend high school in the U.S.

“[I’ve lived in] Bangkok, Thailand, Amman, Jordan, Cairo, Egypt, Tel Aviv, Israel, and Falls Church, Virginia,” said Zigler.

Since age two, when she lived in America, Kayleigh has been living overseas for her entire life. However, the one exception to this was when she was evacuated from Cairo for a period of four months and resided in Falls Church. According to Kayleigh, life definitely differs outside of the U.S.

“You get holidays that your host country has there, and then some American holidays, but only the major holidays,” said Zilger. “We get Thanksgiving off, but we wouldn’t have gotten Columbus Day off, we don’t get MLK (Martin Luther King) Day off… Federal holidays that are big here, you don’t get off there.”

Kayleigh (right) at a softball tournament at an American school in Munich, Germany. (Photo Courtesy of Kayleigh Zigler)
Kayleigh (right) at a softball tournament at an American school in Munich, Germany. (Photo Courtesy of Kayleigh Zigler)

Kayleigh, who is currently on the Mason varsity field hockey team, also played a multiple sports while living abroad, including soccer, basketball and softball. School athletics overseas had some unique opportunities that most American high schoolers could only dream of.

“Since [Walworth Barbour American International School in Tel Aviv, Israel] is a smaller school, the sports were less competitive too,” said Zigler. “The [schools] in Europe tend to be a little bit bigger, so the [sports] are really competitive.”

“There were different divisions that international schools compete against each other in, in these different tournaments, so, for soccer there are three different divisions, and my school was in division two, so the competition was hard. But, since it’s so small, everyone can play a sport, which is really cool because if you make the traveling team, then you travel to a different continent to play a sport.”

Not only were sports different at Kayleigh’s old schools, but academics brought additional differences.

“The classes were normally really small and the entire class sizes ranged from like 40-50 kids, so everyone knew each other’s first name and last name,” said Zigler.

Almost everyone knows each other in the small town of Falls Church, but the diplomatic community is also tight knit.

“Expats are people that are there that aren’t from the country. Diplomats is interchangeable,” said Zigler. “In Egypt it was a tight expat community, because they had a flood sort of area where everyone just hung out.”

Of all the places Kayleigh’s lived, she said it’s hard to pick just one favorite.

“Israel was really cool because the beaches were really pretty,” Zigler said with a smile. “Everything was really centralized, in some of the other places I lived the communities of expats were kind of spread out, like there’d be one house ten minutes away from another”.

“Thailand was also really pretty from what I remember, but I was really young when I lived there, but they also had cool holidays,” said Zigler.

The three months Kayleigh has lived in Falls Church so far are only the beginning of a three year period she will spend at George Mason. She says it’s too early for her to decide where she likes living more.

“I’m not sure yet, because I’m still in the early stages of not living abroad right now, and I’ve basically lived abroad my entire life,” said Zigler.  She might still be getting used to the lower temperatures and different holidays here, but so far her experience in the US has been a positive one.