By Steve Conyers
Studying abroad offers a unique experience to students who gain new perspectives by visiting other countries.
Broadening one’s world view through hands-on teaching in an unfamiliar culture, gaining valuable networking connections and increasing communication skills in an increasingly demanding global job market are just a few of the advantages students obtain when they study abroad.
However, only 10 percent of undergraduate students in the U.S. will study abroad before they graduate, according to the Institute of International Education.
This is common because most students do not have the financial firepower to pay for trips that usually cost at least of a couple thousand dollars. It can be an unrealistic price for those who are paying their own way.
Evan House, a senior at the University of Georgia, is one of the 10 percent. He paid most of his way and received some small help from his parents to travel to Rome, Italy.
House’s six-week trip cost around $4,500. These expenses included staying in Rome, meals, train trips, city bus and metro passes, plane tickets and admission to museums.
This may seem expensive to many, but it’s actually one of the cheaper study abroad programs at UGA. So, sacrifices are a part of the deal when seriously considering these expeditions, said House.
House worked part time at the main library shelving books, won scholarships and scrounged money through small financial decisions such as having his roommate do his laundry, so he didn’t have to pay for the machines in Brumby. He said he cut back on going out and eating at restaurants.
House is an example of someone who took the necessary steps financially to make travel abroad a reality, and he encourages others to do the same.
“I think there are plenty of opportunities to apply for scholarships and get a student job,” House said. “It’s doable even though it can be a hefty toll to take. I’ve known a couple of people who’ve wanted to study abroad, but they haven’t because of expenses. But, overall if you can do it, I totally recommend it.”
UGA’s Rome study abroad program gives away multiple scholarships to students seeking financial help, including some needs-based scholarships. This helps to include students who come from diverse and underrepresented backgrounds, according to the program’s organizers.
In her sixth year as the director of the Rome program at UGA, Professor Elena Bianchelli is constantly giving advice to students who think that going on these trips is an impossible financial task.
“We give out multiple scholarships . . . as well as grants,” Bianchelli said. “We’ve had some students come completely covered by scholarships alone. We really want to help the students out by assisting them along the way. If we inform them that anyone can study abroad, not just rich kids, then we’ve done our job.”
Steve Conyers is a journalism student at the University of Georgia.