Andrew Tesler

Free spirit takes to the road

Italy, Greece, Athena and Zeus await Gunn graduate Andrew Tesler next year.

His planned trek across Europe should introduce him to new cultures -- with a definite stop in the lands whose myths fascinated him in school, he said.

The trip will add to his hobby of cross-cultural enrichment. Tesler, whose family moved to the United States from the former Soviet Union when he was a toddler, acts in a Russian-language theater group in his free time.

At Gunn he was an athlete and represented the student body to the school board. Beyond Gunn and the great open road, he's not sure what the future holds. Perhaps politics, he said. After traveling, he plans to apply to international universities to keep chalking up new experiences.

Why'd you decide to go traveling?

You won't get the same chance later on. ... If you were working and [went traveling, you've lost a year of your career. If you go in college, it's a gap in your studies. ... After 16 years of living in one town besides minor trips for the summer, it really gets like you know the whole city.

What's your best high school memory?

[I learned to take more out of life by not being stressed.

What about your worst high school memory?

I don't have any bad memories. Actually, there was one moment freshman year when I lost $100 [from my wallet.

What's something valuable you learned in high school?

If you look back it's like you knew it all the time, but you didn't.

Do you have any advice for incoming freshman?

You're not going to die. Just manage your time wisely and you'll get through it. ... [And take your [driving permit test early.


Like this comment
Posted by Brit
a resident of Atherton
on Jun 16, 2008 at 8:42 am

Many, many Europeans do this type of experience for a year between high school and college, they call it a gap year. For those who do it, it probably is the defining point of turning them from teenagers into adults, in other words, they grow up. They have to make decisions and be self reliant in a way that they have never done before and they learn to find out about the world and society in a hands on way that can't be learned from a text book. As for cost, it doesn't cost as much as you expect. A Euro rail pass is not expensive and youth hostels are cheap as they expect you to do work for your accommodation, another good lesson to learn. The kids travel from berry harvest, to grape harvest to ski slopes, and get minimum wage survival jobs to pay for food. Yes, somedays they will be eating day old bread and cheese and other days restaurant over stocks in exchange for doing dishes or sweeping patios.

Good for you, and may others follow in your footsteps. It will turn you into a man and give you memories for life. Colleges here should realise that an experience like this is well worth the delay of a year to start freshman year and start accepting that this is what many want to be able to do.

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Posted by Former Brit
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 16, 2008 at 8:56 am

Brit: I presume Andrew is a U.S. citizen; he will not have a work permit to earn either Euros or Pounds in the EU.

As for the British GAP year. Colleges in this country discourage this because so much of a students learning and study skills are lost. Also, it is so competitive to get into College in the US you don't want to lose your place in line.

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Posted by Brit
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 16, 2008 at 9:10 am

Good point about the work permit. However, I am sure that many of the jobs these kids do are paid in cash outside regular bookkeeping, or in meals or other work exchange methods.

As for the gap year, many of my friends' kids that do this benefit so much from the experience that they enter college ready to prepare for their career knowing that education really is the key to their future. It also may have something to do with the higher academics in high schools and the fact that a three year college degree actually prepares them for their degree without the need for GE subjects and graduate school afterwards as a means of starting their professional career.

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Posted by Former Brit
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 16, 2008 at 9:47 am

Brit: "It also may have something to do with the higher academics in high school." Wow! you really are a Brit!! Many of my English friends used exactly the same arguments to convince me that education in Britain is superior to education in the U.S. Did you do two years of calculus in high school, as my son did?

As for graduate degrees, that is a choice student here make. After acquiring a 4 year college degree U.S. students, like British students, are prepared for their professional futures.

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Posted by Brit
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 16, 2008 at 10:59 am


No, I didn't do 2 years calculus in high school, but my husband did.

I know that our experience is over 20 years ago, but my college student is learning stuff in college I did in O and A level (not math). My husband is complaining about graduates straight from college that he works with not knowing stuff he did in high school (EE). My neice has just finished a three year degree in speech and language development having spent half of the past three years on placement in hospitals and schools working with patients. She is now ready to start work as a professional speech therapist at 21.

I know that you can't generalize as many British students leave school at 16 with no real job skills, but at the higher end of the scale, I can see big differences. I know no British friends whose kids go to graduate schools, but they do tend to get degrees in something that will help them get good jobs in their fields. My US friends on the other hand seem to have their kids in colleges for the best part of their 20s.

Just my perspective.

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Posted by Just a Visitor
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 17, 2008 at 7:38 am

OK Brit: and how is Prince William going to make a living with a degree in "Art History" or his girl-friend for that matter? Why didn't he go to graduate school and get an MBA so he'd really know how to run the Windsor business.

Like this comment
Posted by neighbor
a resident of Green Acres
on Jun 25, 2008 at 9:20 pm


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Posted by Brit
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 26, 2008 at 8:59 am

Ah Just a Visitor

You have hit the nail on the head.

The British aristocracy are laws unto themselves and don't have to do what we mere mortals have to do to make a meagre crust.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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