So, it’s finally official. I will be studying abroad in Alcala, Spain for the fall 2016 semester. I am so excited for this experience and so grateful for the opportunity. While there are lots of things to talk about in regards to this exciting development, I wanted to focus this post on how I am affording study abroad.
I think the vast majority of college students would love to study abroad yet only a relatively small percentage of them ever do. While some are limited by fear or maybe a language or credit barrier, probably the vast majority do not study abroad because they think it will be too expensive. All of my friends who are not studying abroad cite cost as the biggest reason by far. Yet, in my experience, there is money there to help you if you look hard enough.
I have been fortunate enough to have received the global engagement fellowship well ahead of my trip, taking away much of the stress associated with planning in general. So I guess that would be my first bit of advice: it’s never too early to start looking for ways to finance study abroad.
My second piece of advice: if studying abroad is a goal of yours, it is certainly helpful to be flexible as to where you will go. At least at OU, there are tons more scholarships to countries outside western Europe, particularly in countries with “critical language components.” Furthermore, studying closer to home (like in Mexico, for instance) offers great savings on transportation, not to mention the lower cost of living there compared to a lot of Europe.
My final piece of advice: use your advisors and your resources to your advantage. They are a wealth of information in most cases and want to help you as much as possible. You don’t want to leave any money on the table just because you were too shy to ask.
The main message really, though, is that even though study abroad may seem expensive, there are TONS of ways around that with careful planning and determination. I am so grateful for the opportunities I have been given, and I truly feel with enough hard work and forethought almost anyone could find themselves in the same situation as I find myself now.