When I first started the process of applying to study abroad I had the same concerns that I had when I was applying to college. I would be the first in my family to study abroad so I did not have anyone in my families who could fully support me in the application process. I was concerned about being so far from home. I was also concerned about the financial burden of studying abroad. However, I figured I would take the chance and apply anyways because I strongly believed that as overwhelming as it all seemed at the moment things would eventually fall into place. I am happy to say that I will be studying abroad in Chile for the fall semester of 2016. This is an opportunity that just like attending college I thought I would never have.
As concerned as I was during the application process everything did end up falling into place with time. I think it is important for all first generation college students to know that studying abroad is an opportunity that we can and should take advantage of. Although at first I felt like I would not have support with the studying abroad application process because no one in my family has studied abroad my family was able to provide support in other ways. My mentors and educators were also very supportive of my decision to study abroad.
My biggest concern about studying abroad was the financial burden. Thankfully, I was able to receive a Gilman scholarship which helped cover some of my study abroad expenses.
Below are some pieces of advice I would offer first generation college students who are considering or have decided to study abroad.
1. Apply to scholarships! There are many scholarships out there. Take the time to do some research to see what is available to you and apply to everything you can apply to. Do not forget to speak to the office of financial aid at your school, they might have some resources available.
2. Start the application process in advance. The process of applying to study abroad can seem tedious. The sooner you start the better.
3. Tell you family, friends, mentors and educators. I was surprised to find out how supportive and helpful everyone was and it made the process a lot easier.