Growing up, I always dreamed of living abroad. I visited Italy when I was 13 and fell in love with travelling. I rember sitting on the spanish steps in rome, and thinking to myself “I have to study abroad someday”.
As time went on, I got busier and began to lose my fervor for studying abroad. I decided I wanted to study Chemical Engineering, and I threw all of my energy into transferring from Santa Barbara City College (SBCC) to a four year university.
Three years later I was admitted to UC Berkeley. That summer, my friend Taylor from UC Santa Barbara kept a blog about her travels in Madrid. Every weekend I was so excited to read her new entry. I smiled and laughed and gasped as I read about her exploring Madrid, adventuring in Paris, and running with the Bulls in Barcelona. As I read each of Taylor’s new entries, my determination to study abroad was renewed.
Still, I had doubts about pulling it off. As an engineering transfer student, I felt this summer was the only time I could study abroad without delaying graduation. However, I thought if I traveled over summer I woulnd’t be able to participate in an internship, which was another priority to me. I knew it would be expensive, and I was apprehensive about taking out more loans.
Then I found out about an opportunity to participate in a research internship in Singapore. I realized I didn’t have to choose between the gaining professional experience I’m seeking and travelling! I ended up being given a project specifically so I can learn about computer graphics, which is what I think I want to do in my career. This was really exciting, but I still had to figure out how to pay for it.
I found out there were a lot of scholarships available to help students study abroad, especially for students who are considered to be underrepresented in study abroad programs. Some of the categories were:
- engineering majors
- transfer students
- disabled students
- students who recieve the pell grant.
- students participating in programs that are considered to be in “non traditonal” locations (mostly anywhere that isn’t in europe).
I went to workshops and got feedback on my scholarship applications, and I ended up recieveing the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, the University of California Education Abroad Program Promise award, the Singapore International Pre Graduate Award, and another UCEAP scholarship. The best advice I got when I was applying was to “make them an offer they can’t refuse”, or otherwise be explicit about how participating in my program is important to my career and worldview. Now my trip is almost fully funded.
My point is, there were several things that I thought might keep me from fulfilling my dream to study abroad. But I ended up finding a program that was ideal for me, and a bunch of resources to help me make it happen.
I feel insanely fortuate to experience this life changing trip. Hopefully by sharing this, I can show others that it is possible to embark on their own adventure :two_hearts: