ASHBY -- While most college students are working summer jobs or internships, one local graduate is choosing to spend his year on another continent.

Alex Gay, 21, just began a year-long study abroad program in Germany, where he is living with a host family, taking classes at a German university and participating in an internship.

Gay, an Ashby resident and recent graduate of Vermont Technical College, recently left for the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange, a program that offers young people the opportunity to study abroad in Germany for a year. It is open to candidates in all career fields.

The fellowship is funded by the Bundestag, which is the German Parliament, and the U.S. Congress. Every year, the program offers scholarships to 75 American students and 75 German students to spend the year in the other country.

Gay said he is looking forward to the personal discovery that often comes with time spent abroad.

"I personally hope to learn more about myself and the ability to handle change better and just the ability to be a better, more aware traveler," Gay wrote in an email from Germany.

Although Gay said his plans for the year haven't been finalized yet, he is beginning the trip with German language classes. Afterwards, he said he will either go straight into an internship or pause to take some classes on German history and business.

"I want to own my own business someday, so it would be cool to learn how they operate a business. And I love history and Germany has a lot of it," he said.

Gay said he was inspired to make the trip because of a love of travel that was instilled in him by his family.

Gay said he has traveled extensively in the United States and Canada, and he has also been to the Bahamas, Bermuda and Puerto Rico. However, this is his first overseas trip.

"I love to travel and I learned that from my parents. They have given me so many chances to explore and experience life and this is just another opportunity," he said.

He said he was specifically interested in Germany's history and culture.

"I'm looking most forward to getting a new perspective, meeting people and seeing what their outlook is on the USA and the Americans that live there," he said.

But one of the major draws was the opportunity to visit and learn from successful German businesses.

"I also can't wait to explore Germany's rich history and go visit factories whose headquarters are in Germany, like German car companies and breweries. German products are sought after around the world, so it's cool to be in the country that produces them," he said.

Alex is the son of Steve and Sandi Shepherd-Gay of Ashby, formerly of Townsend.

Follow Chelsea Feinstein at facebook.com/ChelseaEstelleFeinstein or on Twitter or Tout @CEFeinstein.