The International Programs Office can help you study abroad

Studying abroad seemed impossible for me, but the IPO changed that

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Aakanksha Gupta / Daily Collegian (2017).

By Khyliana Camarao, Letter Contributor

I don’t come from a beautiful hometown and I have lived in one city my entire life. I think it has always been both my mom’s and my goal to eventually leave. I have always had this desire to move far away, potentially near the beach or someplace warm. Anywhere but here.

Since I was a little girl, one of my mom’s main goals in raising me was for me to be well-traveled and explore the world as much as I could. This started with trips to New York and Florida, and eventually led to mother-daughter trips once a year to places across the country like California. As a single mom, this is something she was very proud of and hoped I would implement in my future. Now I can say that her wish came true.

I remember scrolling through the endless list of programs the International Programs Office offers and feeling overwhelmed by what all seemed like great options. Eventually, I came across the Cyprus Program, which seemed unreal to me. Between this captivating island, gorgeous housing accommodations and overall affordable cost, I was set on going.

It did make me nervous knowing only one student from UMass had ever been a part of this program. While working with the IPO, I decided to write a profile on Nicole Ojugbana, the pioneer student for the Cyprus Program. When speaking to her, I could tell how much she fell in love with this island-country located in the eastern Mediterranean Sea that many people have never heard of. Known for its beaches, Cyprus is sunny over 300 days of the year. Nicole made it clear that the people there are as kind and delightful as the country itself. I left the interview feeling captivated by how she spoke about Cyprus, and I knew in that moment that I made the best choice in where I was going to spend my spring semester.

Throughout working with the IPO, I found that they are equally supportive and helpful in this somewhat excruciating application process. Navigating both UMass Abroad requirements along with those of my partner program at the University of Nicosia in Cyprus has been extremely challenging. There are so many things to do in such a short amount of time on top of how nervous and excited I am for this life-changing experience.

A useful resource that I have found through IPO is the UMass Abroad Advising Center, which  offers both peer and faculty advising. All of the peer advisers have been abroad and can answer questions regarding the whole process, as well as what it is like to live in another country. Being able to go to drop-in hours in person or virtually and make appointments is a tool I really enjoyed. Another resource that I found useful was the Program Match Quiz. The quiz asks a series of questions to help determine which study abroad program is right for you. The questions ask about your preferred country, how long you want the program to be and your major/minor. It then gives you a list of options that meet your requirements. There are many other resources that are available to students who are planning to travel or are already abroad.

Although I have not experienced studying across the world in another country just yet, my experience getting there has been amazing. Since this is out of my comfort zone, I do not know if I would have gotten to this point without the encouragement and support from the IPO. Even with doubt from family, who was nervous about my travels, I always knew that the IPO had my back in this important decision. I also never thought that this was something I would be able to experience during college.

I always thought studying abroad was more expensive and too scary for me to do. It still is scary, but financially it can be around the same as a semester at UMass! The IPO has a lot of information under their EA Finances page. I think everyone who enjoys traveling or is interested should at least check out the IPO’s website and take advantage of these resources. You could potentially find your home away from home.

 

Khyliana Camarao can be reached at [email protected]