I am in the process of doing what I need to do for a study abroad trip to London. There is quite a bit about the process I didn’t know until recently that I wish I had known before. I’m going to share what I’ve learned recently. I am a college student myself, so trust me in what I say. Also, I’ve brought in some back up from some experts.
When I was choosing which study abroad to go to, my initial instinct was to go through the list and choose the least expensive trip. The trip was a lovely one, don’t get me wrong, but I made a poor judgement in thinking that I didn’t have any options. There were many financial options I didn’t know I had. For example, I receive Pell grant, so I’m also eligible for a large scholarship called the Gilman Scholarship. For whatever reason, it is always hard to find these even though most departments advertise them. To find out about how to find them, check out the next section:
I cannot stress enough how important it is to seek out advisers. This doesn’t mean your roommate or best friend. There are three people in the university world who you really need to seek out and talk to about it. Certainly there are others in your life you may want to discuss it will, like your parents or friends, but the people who can really help you are: a financial aide adviser, your academic adviser, and a study abroad adviser.
Financial Aide Adviser: They will know the ins and outs of what you can qualify for better than nearly anyone else. Their entire job is about finding money for students, and trust me, he or she will become your best friend.
Academic Adviser: Your worst nightmare would be to return from your trip and find out that none of the classes you took overseas are going to count for anything in your degree. Meet with your academic adviser before you commit to one particular trip, because you need to be certain that you can take classes that help your degree. Otherwise you spent a lot more money on a trip that didn’t help your degree.
Study Abroad Adviser: They are the advisers with well-rounded knowledge of the academics and the financials. They can also clue you into things that you need to know about that you can’t find many other places that have to do with how the process works. They are like your guide through the process. This is who you want to be your best friend.
The programs fill up much more quickly than I thought they would. The first thing my SA adviser told me about that at first I was skeptical about, but research proved right, is that you have to move quickly.
I also learned that it can take awhile to get a passport, particularly if you wait until spring. It is most important to start the process early. You can get a passport before you pick your program but beyond that, you need to pick a program before you can do much else in the process.
I didn’t realize that there were as many uncertainties in the beginning as there are. After talking to my advisers, I realized I’m going to have to make a leap of faith. I have every reason to believe I can do this, but I have to be brave enough to know that it will work out. There are a lot of ”this will likely work out” facts about the financials, but no one can make those guarantees.
Overall, do your research, be prepared, but don’t be afraid to take that leap when the time is right.