Making the Decision to Study Abroad as a First-Gen Student
Posted on May 18, 2018
STUDY ABROAD ALUMNI STORY
Our Diversity Abroad alumni have been able to prepare, engage, and reflect on their international experiences. Upon their return we asked them questions for them to share how they did all of the above. Through these five questions we explore why Brittany chose to study abroad, how they got there, what it was like, and the impact of their global experience.
Why did you decide to study abroad?
Studying abroad was something I never really thought of much. It wasn't a life long dream of mine. Instead, it was something I would see and hear about. I always thought about how beautiful everything looked, but never imagined I could make that my reality. When I found out it was attainable for myself, my whole thought process changed. I am a first-generation college student, so a huge influence on my decision came from members of my family. My grandparents worked hard for my family to have a good life, my parents make sure I never need for anything and it is my job to inspire my younger siblings and show them all they can do in life.
How did you pay for your study abroad experience?
When I decided to study abroad I knew a lot of people did not do so due to the cost of the program. I believed that in order to study abroad I would need to be able to pay out-of-pocket or take out loans. Soon after, I learned I could study abroad and get everything covered by scholarships. In the end, I started my abroad trip with four scholarships to cover the cost, as well as a lot of fundraising throughout the prior months from family and friends.
What is one thing you wish you would have known about studying abroad before you left?
The one specific thing I wish I knew before I studied abroad was that the whole process wouldn't always be happy moments. When you speak to people that have studied abroad before they do not mention that all times won't be easy. I will never forget the feeling of being overwhelmed, all while being culture shocked, when I first arrived in Italy. There were many great moments and many rough moments as well. It is important to let people know the good and bad so they are prepared for the journey ahead.
Did you experience any discrimination abroad because of your race, sex, religion, sexual orientation or a physical disability? If so, what did you learn from the experience?
I identify as a Black American, first-generation, female college student. Italy isn't as diverse as many other places within Europe such as Paris, Barcelona, and London. Although Italy wasn't very diverse, I didn't suffer from any discrimination. The only reality I had in Italy was being the only person that looked like myself in many moments.
How has studying abroad benefited you, personally and academically?
I knew that studying abroad would open many doors within my career field of public relations and since being back, I have been able to place a Corporate Communications internship for the summer. International experience with public relations is a very important skill to have. Personally, I grew in many ways all while meeting so many different people from around the world. It was an experience I will never forget and am still so grateful for everyday.
Want to continue to engage after you’ve returned from your study abroad experience? Attend the Global Student Leadership Conference, Volunteer at the Diversity Abroad Conference, or share your story with us! Email email@example.com with questions.