“Life is like a book, those who don’t travel only read one page.” -
The concept of Studying Abroad brings about different emotions for different people. Although images of partying your way around Spain are enough for some to take the plunge, many people just don’t know all the amazing, countless options there are for studying abroad. Often, feelings of excitement, finances, and fear of the unknown whirl around your brain until you crash and think it’s just not for you. But I am proof that not only can you find a program that gives you the country you want, the scholastic requirements you need, but, it doesn’t have to break the bank.
University Study Abroad Consortium (USAC) based out of University of Nevada Reno is a non-profit organization, which drastically decreases costs for students. I have used them twice, once for my undergraduate work in Thailand, and again for my graduate work in India. Each program, inclusive of tuition, fees, and housing, cost me under $3,000 USD for the semester! That is less than a semester at your average college and often includes your rent. Whether you have always wanted to study abroad or the idea is new for you, I cannot recommend enough to just go for it!
I can say whole-heartedly, studying abroad was the biggest gift I have ever given myself. The experience profoundly changed me forever. I view the world from a multicultural lens, recognizing now how similar and interconnected we all are instead of seeing the differences. I feel empowered to do anything and everything I put my mind to. I have more self-confidence, more drive, and never ending passion for life!
Choosing a Country
When choosing what country is right for you, there are a lot of things to consider. Do you want a country with warm or cold weather? Do you want to learn another language? Do you want to be in a developed or developing country? When I chose my first experience, I knew that I wanted a challenge; something completely different from what I was used to in language, food, religion, and culture. It was also important for me to be in a warm country that offered a balance of beaches and mountains, cities and villages, volunteering and partying. So for me, Thailand was a perfect fit. Now don’t get me wrong, for some people going this extremely different than your home country might sound simply anxiety provoking, and that is okay, knowing what is right for you is very important. Evaluate your comfort level by asking yourself questions about standard of living. For example do you need an English speaking country? Can you handle spicy food? Will you be comfortable with inconsistent electricity or squat toilets? This can help you make a well-informed decision and have clearer expectations once in your host country. As an exercise, I suggest making a list of what you want (and don’t want) to narrow down the optimal country for you.
Financing Your Trip
Financing your trip may seem challenging but don’t let it get you down. Most schools offer a lot of scholarships for studying abroad that often don’t get used because people just don’t know about them. Also, most programs accept your government grants to pay for tuition abroad leaving you with less or the same amount of expenses than you would normally have day to day at home. Also, as stated above, great non-profit study abroad programs like University Studies Abroad Consortium offer fantastic programs at much lower costs. In addition, I suggest following reading my Tips to Save for Travel to help you save some extra spending cash before you trip. It is amazing how the dollars can start to stack up when you have an end goal in mind.