Who Studies Abroad?

So many college students choose not to study abroad for a plethora of reasons, but studying abroad can help you stand out from your peers. Students that do so become global citizens, and learn how interact with people of all ethnic backgrounds. Students all colors, religions, and backgrounds are studying abroad. Don’t be scared to join them!

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Study Abroad Scholarships

Financial concerns are almost always on the mind of college students, especially students looking into studying abroad. All too often, students dismiss the idea of going abroad because of the financial burden they think it will cause. But those students fail to look into the options at their disposal. Often time at state universities, the cost of studying abroad is less for students paying without financial aid. For example, an out of state Ohio State Student will pay $14,848 a semester. However, any student attending OSU can apply for the Kent State study abroad programs. The Kent State Geneva program cost $13,640 a semester, and includes an apartment in the city in the coast.

There are also scholarship opportunities available for every study abroad student, regardless of the college or university they attend. There are multiple programs out there that offer a variety of scholarships for students studying abroad. One of the more popular programs offering scholarships is studyabroad.com. This organization offers an essay contest with a prize of $1,000. A link directly to the scholarship application can be found here. Another organization offering scholarships to any student going abroad is CEA Study Abroad. This organization offers scholarships based on merit, diversity, and need. Students only need a 2.5 GPA to apply for any available study abroad scholarship. Applicants also need to get a letter of recommendation, and write a short essay to be eligible.    

Before dismissing the idea of college or a semester abroad because of financial constraints, students need to look into all possible options. In some cases, choosing to study abroad can actually save students money on tuition. There are also a lot of scholarship opportunities available. The two I have mentioned are just a couple of thousands available. Where there is a will there is a way, and if any student has the desire to go abroad, they should. There are resources available to everyone to turn their dream into a reality. 

Challenges of Studying Abroad

Many students considering studying abroad are deterred by one of the many challenges posed by living in a different country. While the challenges of living abroad can make life difficult at times, it provides an opportunity to learn about other cultures in a way that is unobtainable any other way. No text book, lecture, or video could ever convey the feeling of immersing yourself in a brand new culture. Having to overcome language barriers, cultural differences, and economic differences can completely change a person’s perception of different countries around the world.

One challenge of studying abroad that often intimidates students that choose to study abroad is the language barrier. Moving to a country where you don’t speak the native language can be quite difficult for obvious reasons. For example, something as simple as ordering a pizza can turn into a challenging task if two people aren’t able to clearly communicate with one another. However, many American students would be glad to know that English is spoken almost everywhere. During my study abroad experience, I was flabbergasted by the number of people that spoke English. Every city that I went to was filled with locals and tourists all speaking English. English was also prominent in every airport that I traveled through. Even though many people spoke English, there were still sometimes where it was difficult to communicate. The experience showed me how beneficial it is to speak multiple languages, and gave me a greater appreciation for foreigners coming to America that don’t speak English.

Studying abroad also intimidates students that fear homesickness. Separated from family and friends by multiple countries, or the ocean can definitely make students homesick. In fact, almost everyone I know who has studied abroad, including myself, experienced homesick feelings. My advice for any student suffering from this is to stay busy! An article by gooverseas.com also recommends to stay busy. Overusing yourself, as they say, will take your mind off everything back home. Wherever you decide to study, there will be so much to do. Staying active and enjoying the moment helps take your mind of loved ones back home. Taking adventures, exploring new cities, and making the most out of your time in a foreign country will most definitely help you overcome any homesick feelings.          

While there are several challenges that can make life difficult for students studying abroad, overcoming those challenges can teach students lessons that cannot be learned anywhere else. Having to face difficulties while living abroad can give people a whole new perspective on immigrants living in America, like it did for me. No matter where you go, the experience will open your eyes to how other people live. It will allow you to experience different cultures, and what makes each culture unique. Face these challenges head on, and use each one as leaning experience to grow and an individual, and global citizen.

Dive into your Semester Abroad

The idea of spending a semester across the ocean, far from friends and family, can seem like a daunting task to people considering studying abroad. The thought alone can be enough to deter some college students from even looking into the possibility of spending a semester in another country. Students dwelling on the distance of their journey fail to see the incredible opportunity available to them during their four years of college. Thousands of students every year pack up their bags and leave the country, seeking to create lasting memories while studying in a different country. Completely immersed in a new culture, students have the opportunity to travel, learn new languages, and experience what the world has to offer beyond the borders of the United States.

Canal in Burano, Italy

The growing popularity of studying abroad has created more opportunities for interested students than ever before. Colleges are regularly adding, and expanding their study abroad programs, to provide their students with learning experiences they cannot get in America. Students that are interested in studying abroad should check with their host university before exploring what other options are available. However, study abroad programs offered by a different college, or alternative program, can provide incredible experiences that students might not have known were available to them.

The Semester at Sea program has exploded in popularity over the past few years. So much so, that they even have their own SnapChat channel for the duration of the semester. This incredible program, sponsored by Colorado State University, offers a unique twist to the classic study abroad experience. Participating students make the ocean their home, living and taking classes on a cruise ship while sailing across the ocean. This one-of-a-kind journey provides students the opportunity to experience cultures, food, and take adventures on multiple continents, while traveling to a plethora of cities in countries across the globe. The curriculum and classes offered on board have been intentionally designed to create a stronger learning experience by mirroring the boats itinerary. Focused on intercultural learning, students will also have the opportunity to take field trip like classes, gaining a greater understanding of the material being studied. Students will also have time for independent travel after classes are completed, where they can explore the various cities at their own pace.

Sunset on the Aegean Sea

Many students studying abroad choose to live in countries where they can perfect a language they have studied in the past, or are currently studying. With so many high school students studying Spanish, South America has become a popular destination for study abroad college students lookingto perfect the language skills they’ve learned. API Study Abroad is an organization that offers various study abroad programs all over the world, many of which are located in South America. API strives to create learning enrichment for students through a cross-cultural environment. They offer a wide range of classes through partnering universities in their host cities to provide students with a truly international leaning experience. The commitment API has to cross-cultural learning extends to students outside of college as well. API offers a variety of programs for high school and gap year students, teachers, and volunteers.

Kent State University, my soon to be alma mater, has developed an incredible Education Abroad department. While Kent State has a wide range of locations available for short study abroad experiences including South Africa, China, India, and many more, Kent State provides students from any university the opportunity to spend semesters in Florence, Geneva, or Prague. All three of these destinations offer different experiences to participating students. While students have ample time to travel and explore Europe, the most popular study abroad destination, at all three locations, each one offers culturally rich classes specific to the host country. These classes occasionally embark on field trips where students can gain a first hand learning experience to the history, language, and culture of the country they are living in. Internship opportunities are available in all three cities, but are with different organizations depending on the location. For example, Kent State Geneva offers incredible internship experiences for students. Having the chance to work at the United Nations, World Health Organization, or one of the several other incredible international and non-governmental organizations available in Geneva, provide students with an international work experience that’s sure to separate them on a resume. Kent State Florence is the most popular destination of the three. This is the only destination where students actually take Kent State classes from Kent State professors, the other three are offered through a partnering host university. Students studying in Florence take classes in the heart of the city as Kent State’s building is located just blocks from the iconic Duomo. All Kent State students should look into what Kent State Florence, Geneva, and Prague have to offer.

View of Florance, Italy

The memories, life lessons, and cultural leaning experiences are just a few reasons why all students should study abroad. This incredible opportunity to take the adventure of a lifetime is typically only available to college students. Think about it, when else can someone just move to another country and explore for four months? Unfortunately, according to a US News article, less than ten percent of college students are currently taking advantage of this amazing opportunity. The programs outlined above are all intriguing, each offering unique experiences. However, these are only three of hundreds of programs, all dedicated to creating culturally enhanced learning opportunities for students. I encourage everyone reading this post to look into the various study abroad programs available. Find the city of your dreams, the study abroad program that fits your life goals, and take the plunge. Push yourself to grow as an individual, go out of your comfort zone, and experience all the world has to offer.