Have you ever considered studying abroad? You’re not alone. According to NAFSA, the number of US students who traveled to study abroad grew from 289,408 in 2013 to 304,467 in 2014, representing a 5.2% growth. Europe hosted 53.3% of these visits, with Latin America placing a far second at 16.2%.
However, contrary to the rising demand for study abroad, the discrepancy between Caucasians and underrepresented students is huge. A staggering 74.3% of US students who studied abroad in 2013 to 2014 were white. It seems that the opportunity to study abroad and reap the benefits of being a global citizen is mostly still reserved for white students, and in particular those with the socioeconomic and cultural capital to recognize the return of investment in global experiences.
Studying Abroad as a Gateway to Success
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What exactly does studying abroad offer?
Exposure to foreign cultures provides a deeper understanding of humanity as a whole. With the unprecedented rate at which information is shared nowadays, it’s quite easy to fall into the trap of feeling worldly from the secondhand experiences we read online. It’s quite different to absorb the culture, history, and even current events of other countries instead of reading about them online. Knowing another country requires actually going there and taking part in the lives of the people. By studying abroad, you create that link. As you go from country to country, you’ll gain a different perspective through the various people you meet.
That empathy doesn’t only give you a profound sense of connectedness to the world, but also a maturity that will help you take bigger steps in life. There are even statistics to prove it! A study by the University of Georgia showed that those who took a bachelor’s degree program abroad were 10% more likely to graduate in four years and 25% more likely to finish schooling in five years compared to their peers who stayed behind.
Whether you are aiming for college summer programs or an MBA abroad, the skills and values you will develop as an international student are tools to get you ahead in life. There are a lot of study abroad programs from 2 weeks and undergraduate degrees to MBAs and research fellowships.
The Myth of Study Abroad Exclusivity
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Contrary to popular belief, entering a university or graduate school abroad is not exclusive to the rich. There are a wide range of financial aid programs you can explore with your school, your government or the host country.
Student grants, which may come from the government, the school or from private sources, do not need to be paid back. Most study abroad grants are offered to marginalized students, like ethnic minorities, or those pursuing a PhD abroad. In the US, there is a long list of grants targeting underrepresented student groups including African Americans, Asian Americans, Latinos, students with disabilities, economically disadvantaged students, and members of the LGBT community.
Generally, a scholarship abroad and a grant are both given out without demanding repayment. The difference between the two lies in the qualifications required from applicants. Study abroad scholarships are primarily awarded to those with top-notch scholastic records or those with stellar social work history.
Sometimes, grants and scholarships do not cover the entire tuition fee. You may then apply for government student loans with a “study now, pay later” scheme that do need to be paid back while you’re finishing your degree.. If all else fails, you may enter a community college that offers free or subsidized tuition.
Aside from study abroad funding, there are other essential matters you should know. It is advisable to seek professional guidance in choosing the educational institution, preparing for student visa application, scheduling college trips and others.
Diversity Abroad’s Vision of Global Learning
Founded in 2006, Diversity Abroad aims to connect students and young professionals with meaningful international opportunities that will prepare them in the future. It has exclusive content on travel programs, alumni experiences and reflections, as well as destination guides that can equip students for their educational journey abroad. Diversity Abroad also offers information on scholarships and funding opportunities for international students.
This interactive platform is a bridge between international students and alumni, offering an opportunity for both to learn from each other. Diversity Abroad is unique from other organizations because it connects talented and underrepresented students and graduates who deserve a chance in international education and career. It is committed to support a new generation of global leaders.
If you are considering taking an master’s degree abroad, you may find the Alumni & Graduates Study Abroad Guides handy. If you feel the need to prepare for a possible culture shock, the Diversity and Inclusion Abroad Guide can be of help. Diversity Abroad provides a collection of articles that can guide you in securing your student visa and preparing for essentials such as student airfare, lodging, communication expenses and other student budget matters.
Kevin Chung went to Copenhagen, Denmark, with the program Danish Institute for Study Abroad. He said that the opportunities offered to international students are not available at home. “The chance to learn from other cultures and apply classroom theory in real world situations is something I felt would enhance my undergraduate career,” Kevin shared.
The experience of studying in a foreign country, whether for a four-year course or a summer program, is truly rewarding. However, it is not without hardships. One of the challenges students face abroad is homesickness. Being oceans away from family and friends can take a toll on anybody. Foreign students are encouraged to join clubs and organizations in the host country. This will open up opportunities to create new relationships and discover new hobbies.
Diversity Abroad envisions a world where each of us learns from one another openly. There’s no denying that studying abroad doesn’t only remove the blinders over our eyes while we’re secluded in our respective countries. Taking the chance to live in another country away from a familiar environment can elevate one’s personal maturity, which is integral in developing the set of skills and ethics needed for success.
Meet the passionate people who work tirelessly to bring Diversity Abroad’s vision to life. Through their joint efforts, they aim to bring the opportunity of a global education to everyone.