Bethany's Tips and Tidbits about Study Abroad

Hey everyone! The past few weeks, life has been beyond hectic so I haven't even had time to post on this blog. I've been meaning to post for a while now about scholarships and studying abroad.

If you're like me, studying abroad sounds daunting due to money issues, but thankfully there ARE multiple scholarships available, especially country-specific scholarships.

Seeing as I work two jobs in order to just attend school, study abroad would've been impossible without help from scholarships.

Here are a few tips and resources I found to be useful.

Bethany’s Tips and Tidbits about Study Abroad
If you are reading this, then it’s probably safe to say that you’re considering study abroad. This is just a brief entry, so if I don’t answer all of your questions, feel free to send me an e-mail.
 
Funding:
 
Yes, it can be difficult if you have to pay your own way, like I did. However, some programs are cheaper than a semester at IU. Also, there are scholarships available to provide financial aid. *Note, it’s a good idea to decide on a country and a program before starting your search for scholarships since some scholarships are country/program based.*
 
1.) Do research. The Internet is a great resource.
a. Some useful websites and scholarships that I used: http://www.iie.org/en, http://www.studyabroadfunding.org/, http://www.studyabroad.com/scholarships.aspx, Boren Scholarship (http://www.borenawards.org/boren_scholarship), and Gilman Scholarship (http://exchanges.state.gov/globalexchanges/gilman-scholarship-program.html).
 
2.) Start early! I cannot stress how important this is. Start looking for programs and scholarships as soon as you decide where you want to study abroad. Don’t wait until the last minute. The earlier you start, the more you can revise your essays and improve them. Also, you should give your professors ample time to write letters of recommendation, so the earlier, the better. I digress.
 
3.) Go to the Office of Overseas Study or your professors and ask questions. They are experts and a great resource to information about scholarships, application deadlines, etc. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or ask them to check your scholarship essays. That's what I did and it helped, a lot.
 
4.) Apply, apply, apply! I applied for as many scholarships as possible, well over 10. It’s definitely a lot of work, but if you put in the effort and the time, it can really pay off in the end.
 
5.) Stay on top of deadlines! Enough said.
 
Resources and Contacts:
 
Please repeat after me, the Office of Overseas Study is my friend. Here’s the website: http://www.indiana.edu/~overseas/
 
I suggest that you look over this site thoroughly, especially the “Big List” of programs (http://iabroad.iu.edu/istart/controllers/inquiry/InquiryEngine.cfm?serviceid=ProgramSearchProvider&view=map&filterinterests=no&admin=&adminCampus=&studentCampus=&minhighlight=0&country=&region=&language=&term=&mainstream=no&internship=no&serviceLearning=no). The first big step is finding a program you are interested in. Then find one or two back-up options, just in case your first choice falls through. (Doshisha University was my third option, to be honest. Although, I'm more than pleased that Doshisha was the school I was able to attend!)
 
Your language professors or assistant instructors are also a great resource. They may know of additional scholarships or programs. Further, they can give great tips on the target country and language.
 
General tips:
 
It might be a good idea to read up on the local customs before going to your host country. Guide and travel books like The Lonely Planet often have useful information. Also, as I’ve stressed before, asking your professors or friends from that country is another good idea.
 
A few examples I learned in a seminar of why it’s important to read up and be observant:
1.) In Kyrgyzstan, women smoking in front of a building are said to be prostitutes.
2.) In the Middle East, leaving the house with wet hair is equivalent to the “walk of shame.”
3.) In Japan, sitting in the reserved seats or talking loudly will probably earn the contempt of those around you. (Although this seems to be somewhat changing among the younger generation.)
 
Being aware of things like this will help you transition into the culture more easily while helping you to avoid painfully embarrassing faux pas.
 
That's all I've got for now. I'll try to get another post up soon!
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