Scholarships. Everyone has heard of them, yet seemingly so few people (at least that I know of) go after them. But if your one of the millions who doesn’t exactly have thousands of dollars just waiting on hand to drop upon going to another country, then they are going to be a very important thing. Scholarships, Grants, Loans… all of it equals MONEY!
Scholarships are not exactly free money though. While it is true that you do not have to pay a scholarship back, you don’t just walk up to someone, say ‘I need money!’ and get handed a scholarship. There are a few hoops you have to jump through first. Such as finding scholarships, applying and (in some cases) proposing what the money is for, should you get nominated for it.
When we learned that we would be accepted into the study abroad program, my buddy Jason and I began to look for scholarships. And we looked… and we looked…. and we looked…. yeah, you get the idea. I personally probably applied for nearly 30 or 40 scholarships on my own, everything ranging from 10,000 dollar scholarships from famous named organizations to scholarships that were only a few hundred dollars from people I never knew existed, until I typed in ‘scholarships’ into Google.
But all the searching and work that was put into it would finally come to fruition when we received word back from a particularly well-known scholarship called the Gilman. It is apparently quite a big deal, as it is a scholarship directly linked to studying abroad…. which just so happened to be what we needed it for! But like most things in the world, it wasn’t as easy as just being in need of the money… you have to prove you would work for it.
To apply, first we had to write a single page essay about who we were, our academic standing, and our interest in studying abroad in our country of choice. Then, we had to present a project idea or two that we would do in tandem with our study abroad that would help us express our study abroad experiences to others. One of my main ideas was actually this very thing you might be reading…. writing a blog. This is partially because it is something necessary for the scholarship, as well as being a detailed memoirs of my journey in the land of sakura blossoms and geisha.
Anyway, after submitting our ideas, we just had to fill out a few forms, which essentially equated to crossing our t’s and dotting our i’s. But when it was all said and done, we got some nice scholarships to help supplement our trip. Mine personally went towards the tuition for my study abroad.
But if you are looking to study abroad, I would say you are quite literally a fool if you are not looking for some kind of scholarship or financial aid (or just inherently wealthy). While you do have to work a bit for the money, at least in my experience, it isn’t so hard as to outweight the reward. And if you want to go badly enough, there is no such thing as having too much money for souvenirs! But there is a limit to how much you can receive in scholarships for a given semester, so try to keep that in mind as well! Do your research, do the homework, and I have no doubt you too can find a bit of financial aid just waiting to help you get your study abroad trip going!