Breaking barriers in study abroad

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Breaking barriers in study abroad

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Collegian File Photo

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By Victoria Tustin, Collegian Contributor

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Going to advisors all semester, paying expensive fees, applying for VISAs and booking flights. It sounds stressful when you lay it all out on the table, right?

The truth is, studying abroad is made so accessible for students of every financial background at University of Massachusetts Amherst. Traveling around the globe, or even just to another part of the United States, can be an experience of a lifetime that nobody should have to miss out on simply because they might struggle to afford it. If studying abroad is your dream but you pushed that dream aside because of financial purposes, now is your chance to make it happen. In fact, students can receive much assistance through UMass when it comes to study abroad.

Not every program is the same price, and there are so many different places you can travel. I’m studying abroad in Australia next year, which can be a bit expensive compared to other countries. However, there are a ton of different locations and universities I could choose to study at over there, and all of those will have different tuition costs.

According to GoAbroad.com, Germany is known to have moderately fair prices for students studying abroad. Some popular places to travel to are in Europe, where students can have the option of traveling to other parts of Europe on weekend excursions. GoAbroad.com is extremely helpful when it comes to comparing prices of different possible study abroad programs and countries. For example, I know students in Spain who have traveled to London for a weekend, Germany, and so on. Flights are cheaper than you would think, considering it is Europe, because everything is only a few hours away from each other.

Everyone has doubts about studying abroad, though — I have my doubts, too. However, what pushed me to go abroad is the potential experience. I think it is a given that traveling to a foreign country is going to be life changing, and though it seems scary and impossible, it may just be worth the risk. I am confident that I would rather look back on my time at UMass and utilize the University’s travel abroad assistance than wish I took them up on the chance.

Even if your doubts aren’t about finances, it can be scary to leave your family for so long and be completely isolated from everything you are used to. It will take a lot of courage to take a big step like this, as it can be scary to dive into a completely new culture. But once these new ways of life are discovered, they are amazing ways to find out more about yourself than you ever truly knew.

Even though some locations have lower costs, what does “lower” even mean? A couple thousand dollars cheaper? It still is so expensive, and that is where scholarships and financial aid come into play. There are many scholarships that students are eligible to apply for, and financial aid can help a lot of students in need. It may seem discouraging, but money should never be a reason you cannot experience different parts of the world. Take a trip down to the International Programs Office (IPO) and I promise it will be worth it.

As I said, studying abroad is something no student should miss out on. I have traveled a lot in my life and I plan to study abroad in Australia next semester, so I already have an idea of what I am in for. I have heard from a variety of students who have studied abroad all over the world and they have all said the same thing: a once in a lifetime, life-changing experience.

Discovering different cultures, meeting new people and studying the things you love in a new light are some awesome experiences that cannot be replaced. Life at UMass is great — don’t get me wrong. But there comes a time in everyone’s life where it is time to explore. That’s why I believe that when we have an opportunity as amazing as this in our laps, we may as well utilize it.

Victoria Tustin is a Collegian Contributor and can be reached at [email protected]