The minute that you hear anyone talking about going abroad, it’s human instinct to immediately see dollar signs racking up in your head. How is any college student on a budget supposed to afford something like traveling overseas when we’re out here on campus eating ramen noodles three times a day? That is exactly where I stood when I first heard about the International Business Seminar. It was the dream trip that I had always wished to be able to attend but never thought I could get myself to go.
This brings me to my first words of advice; you must have the drive and commitment to save in order to meet your goal to go on this trip. I was determined that I could save up the money on my own. The idea of paying for it myself made me feel more mature and independent, gave me the confidence that if I could do this, I could do anything and that I was ready to enter the adult world in a few short months. My trip was set to begin in May and I fully committed myself to making sure I was going in November of the year prior, giving me roughly 6 months to prepare to save. I made sure to set an end goal of the entire amount of the trip, plus an additional $1,000 for expenditures while abroad on things such as food and extracurriculars. This then led to my plan of how I was going to get the money to put into my savings account. I took the initiative to approach my boss at my job to grant me a few more hours to my schedule to help with putting more money away. My plan was with each paycheck, to put away as much as I could into savings. Depending on how much I made, I on average was able to put anywhere between 20-30% straight into savings from each paycheck, which made a big difference in making sure my savings plan stayed consistent. I knew though that this wasn’t going to be enough though with the time period that I had before the trip.
This leads me to my second piece of advice, look around in your local community or online for side work that you could do such as nannying, dog walking, or even house sitting. I took on a lot of extra jobs such as that on my free weekends which made an even bigger contribution that went straight into my account.
The next step that I took was to investigate what scholarship opportunities that could help with funding my trip. When it comes to scholarship applications, the key is organization! Here are some key tips that I learned from applying:
• Write down the name of the scholarship and highlight the deadline next to it in big letters
• Underneath jot down what requirements there are to complete the application
• Check over that you will be able to complete the requirements that you will be responsible if you are granted the scholarship
• Get in contact with your Study Abroad Office and IBS Staff on tips for what the applications are looking for and if there may be other’s that you may not have known about to help with funding
• Speak with your professors and ask them if they could help with writing you an academic recommendation (some scholarships have this as a requirement)
I’m going to be completely honest; scholarships take A LOT of work, so you need to be prepared for that. Set aside some time for yourself to dive into them and put 100% effort into completing them as soon as you can. Just make sure they are on time! Most of the questions they ask in the applications are to figure out who you are as a person and why you want to go on this trip. My biggest tip is to just speak your truth, I made sure in mine that I was showing those who review it that I’m fulfilling a dream that I have had for a long time and that I was willing to work hard to achieve it.
It’s hard to picture at a college students age and limited availability of free time that this trip can be affordable, it almost sounds too good to be true. But trust me when I say that it’s all TRUE. You need to know that it is possible and that YOU CAN DO IT! You just need to make sure that you believe in yourself enough that you can and work hard enough. No one can take away from you the pride you get from being able to say that at 22 years old, you were able to work hard enough to send yourself overseas for the adventure of a lifetime.