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Hannah Leigh

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Ways to Save Money for Study Abroad

Money discourages many from considering study abroad, and trust me, I completely understand this. Study abroad can be possible if you begin planning for it early.

Today, I will be mentioning some tips on how to save money for study abroad.

1. Research available programs

If you want to study abroad, the first stop is to research study abroad programs that are available to you.

I would say the cheapest way to go abroad is by going independently (in other words, not applying to a program through your university’s study abroad office).  However, if you have not been abroad before, I would not recommend going without a sponsor in the U.S. Also, depending on your university’s policy, you might not be able to receive federal student aid.

The second best option is to do programs that are specific to your university. These programs often cost the same as a typical semester or year at your university, making them quite affordable. You can also use your financial aid as usual, which is quite beneficial if you already receive a decent financial aid package.

2. Begin budgeting for your program

Once you have found the perfect program, begin budgeting for it!

First,  you should determine all the costs your program will have. Make sure you include every possible expense in your budget, such as how much your flight would be and the cost of a student visa, if needed. Also, most study abroad programs have a document that details all of these expected and unexpected costs and how much you should be budgeting! Give it a look.

Next, determine what financial aid will cover. If you are applying for a program offered by your university, chances are you will receive the same financial aid package as you do if you were studying at home. If you already have a decent financial aid award, then this can really make a dent in your study abroad budget.

See if you qualify for any study abroad scholarships, either offered by your university or outside scholarships. Do not think that you do not have a chance at receiving a scholarship! A lot of people believe this, and they do not think of ever applying. Therefore, this makes the competition quite low, and the chances of receiving a scholarship actually quite high.

Find a part-time job if you need a few extra funds. Even if you are not working that much, or if you are making  minimum wage, you can still make a decent amount of money to go towards your study abroad program. I worked at part-time the summer before going to Murcia, and I always put a quarter of my paycheck towards the my program budget. While it does not seem like much at first, it definitely helps!

3. Do a fundraising event

Fundraising is much easier to do nowadays, with online platforms such as GoFundMe. Everyone has their opinions about GoFundMe, and other similar sites, but I think they can be quite helpful. After all, you can simply upload your fundraiser online, letting your friends and family members know about your study abroad plans. This is a good way to secure a few extra funds for study abroad,  but also keeping everyone informed about what you are planning to do for the next couple of months.

Another way to secure some funds is by planning a real life fundraiser, which also lets your family and friends know of your plans. This, I believe, is a little bit more personal, and it allows everyone to further understand your study abroad plans. You could do anything. I have seen many great fundraisers, such as selling art or having an all-you-can-eat pancake bake!

4. Take advantage of student discounts

There are plenty of student discounts available to take advantage of when you are home and abroad.

If you are looking for a good deal on flights, then I recommend checking out STA Travel. These discounts only available to students and young people. Through this website, you can also receive a ISIC (International Student Identity Card). This is particularly helpful for traveling abroad, as many attractions and museums offer discounts.

You can also use your student ID from home or, if you receive one at your host university, to possibly receive discounts at attractions or museums, as well.

5. Consider taking out a loan

If you require a little extra help covering necessary program expenses, always remember that loans are a possible option!

Firstly, you can see your university offers the bridging loan program. I know that my university does, and although I have never taken advantage of it, I have heard that it is quite helpful. This loan, in particular, helps with pre-departure fees, such as passport or visa application fees or purchasing a flight. It can even go towards paying your program deposit.

There are also other study abroad specific loans that are available. You should definitely consider these if you need them.

 

Hopefully these recommendations help you save a bit more money for your study abroad plans. For those who have already studied abroad, what are some of your tips for saving money?

Thanks for reading!

 

 

Master’s Degrees in Spain Where You Can Use or Defer Your Federal Student Aid

I have recently decided I want to do my master’s degree somewhere in Europe — and yes, Spain, most likely. You know me so well. However, federal student loan debt is a very real thing, and unfortunately, I have a lot of it. For me, finding a university in Spain that would allow me to do in-school deferment has been quite difficult, but thankfully, I have found some options.

In this post, I will be highlighting the five (yes, that’s it) universities that all you to use federal student aid and/or allow you to use in-school deferment. I will also express basic information about the university, in order for you to see whether the university is a good fit for you.

Defer Only
If a university only allows you to do in-school deferment that means that they will not allow you to take out federal student loans to fund your degree. However, if you have previously taken out student loans, you do not need to begin paying them back while attending university abroad. You receive in-school deferment, the same as what you had during your four years of undergrad.

ESADE (Escuela Superior de Administracion y Direccion De Empresas), sponsored by Ramon Llull University, in Sant Cugat, Barcelona

ESADE is a private business school with a full-time and part-time master’s of business administration degree. They also have the multi-national MBA, which allows you to attend several universities throughout the world. Both programs are taught in English, though continuing to learn a language such as Spanish, German, or French is needed. These programs are equally great for those interested in global business. For more information on the master’s programs available, check out their website: Programs at ESADE.

UPV (Universitat Politècnica de Valencia), in Valencia
Since this is a polytechnic university, there tends to be a focus on science and technology programs. In terms of master’s degrees, although dominated by these fields, there are also options for those interested in art and business. There are some programs available in English, but the majority are offered in Spanish. For more information on the programs offered: Master’s Programs at UPV.

Universidad Jaume I, in Castelló de la Plana, Valencia
They have a focus on science and technology programs, as well. However, there seems to be an extensive amount of programs in the humanities and social sciences, as well. They are a strong research university. Most courses appear to be in Spanish, though there are some that are offered in English. For more information on the available programs, take a look at Master’s Programs at UJ1.

Eligible
In this category, you are eligible to take out federal student loans to fund your education. You also receive in-school deferment, so you do not have to worry about paying back loans while completing your degree.

IESE Business School, of Universidad de Navarra, in Barcelona and Madrid
IESE specifically offers post-graduate degrees relating to business, of which have often ranked among the top 10 in the world. They have campuses in Barcelona and Madrid, as well as teaching faculties around the world. The programs are in English. You can find out more about the programs they offer on their website IESE Business School.

Universidad de Navarra, in Pamplona,
Universidad de Navarra is a private university with an international focus. At the Pamplona campus, there are many faculties that offer master’s degrees, which means you can find a master’s degree perfect for you. There are some programs offered in English, though the majority are in Spanish. For more information on the master’s degrees offered, check out Master’s Programs at UN.

Although there are limited universities in Spain that are eligible for financial aid or in-school deferment, there are plenty of degree options available, in both English and Spanish. You will most likely find the perfect program for you.

If you are interested in (or currently) studying a master’s degree in Spain, or Europe in general, please let me know in the comments below. I would really love to hear your stories and experiences.

Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

Dealing with Hardships While Studying Abroad

I have touched on this topic before, but I have never really quite expanded on it. I think it is quite important to write about this.

Study abroad will not be a fully perfect experience. You will have days that are not-so-good. There will be times that all you can do is sit and room and cry. And trust me, all I can say about this is that it is normal.

When you look at your friends’ Instagram accounts, who are also studying abroad, everything always looks fine. Perfect, even. When I was feeling out of place in Murcia, about a few weeks in, I admit that I turned to social media. Though, it ended up making me feel worse. Why? All friends were uploading their best moments of study abroad. And, I was not having the best time.

Was it just me not having a good time abroad? This was the question that surfaced in my head, and the answer is no!

Eventually, I realized that everyone experiences hardships while abroad, but they choose not to upload those moments on social media. While it seems obvious now, I just remember in that moment feeling devastated, wondering why I was the only one not totally enjoying my time abroad.

I think experiencing hardships while living and studying abroad is especially tough. With the image of having the perfect time being constantly displayed online, it appears like everyone is supposed to just have a good time and that the bad never occurs. Though, truthfully, life continues happening even when you are abroad. I mean, you are still living, which means that not everything is going to be ideal one-hundred percent of the time.

If you are bummed out about staying in one day, not doing anything, I write this post to tell you to not feel discouraged about that! At home, you have these days, and you are bound to have them while studying abroad too. It is completely normal.

Here are some take-away tips:

If you are having a bad day, remember it is okay. You have every right to lay in your bed, drink a nice cup of tea, or whatever it takes to make you feel better. Just stay away from social media if it will bring you down.

Everyone feels this way sometimes, so do not hesitate to reach out to some of your study abroad friends. When I was having not-so-good moments, I would message my friends. We would meet up, have a tea or coffee, and talk. Honestly, it was a good way to get out and do something without really doing much.

Remember the positive moments you have had, and the ones that are to come.

Thanks for reading!

 

Is Direct Exchange For You?

I often receive questions about direct exchange programs. The most common question being, how do you know if doing a direct exchange is right for you. These programs are when you enroll directly in a university abroad, and you take your classes with mostly local students.

For U.S. students who are curious about enrolling directly in a foreign university, a good program to consider for this is ISEP. They helped me study abroad in the Universidad de Murcia, in Murcia, Spain.

Anyway, determining if a direct exchange is right for you can be based on a number of factors. What do you hope to get out of a semester or year abroad?

I chose direct exchange in order to improve my Spanish. I was already in my final year level courses, but was only starting my third year. Therefore, my professors recommended direct exchange to find classes at my level/that would continue to allow me to advance in Spanish. So, I would definitely recommend direct exchange if you want to continue to improve at the language. Direct exchange is also great if you are already confident in the language, but you want to continue practicing speaking on a daily basis.

If you are new to speaking the language of the country you are going, then I would recommend more so an international student program or studying directly in a course that is in English. However, if your goals are to improve at speaking the language of the host country, then I would recommend the international student program. After all, they offer intensive language courses, mainly for students with intermediate language level or below.

Also, if you are wanting to befriend more local students, then definitely doing a direct exchange will be more your cup of tea. If you want to meet other international students, however, don’t fret, you can still meet them with direct exchange. If you are planning to study in Europe, there is an exchange program called Erasmus, where Europeans do direct exchanges in universities based on their course of study at home. So, you will definitely have the opportunity to meet local and other fellow international students.

However, if you want to stick with more of an international crowd, then the international student program is obviously more your style. These programs, because they are smaller and often all the students share the same/similar schedule, also offer a lot of options for travel, parties, etc. during the free time throughout the semester. If having pre-planned excursions interests you, then you definitely should lean more towards an international student program.

Though, if you want to plan your own trips on the weekends, then direct study is more for you. I would also argue that it is less expensive to plan your own travels.

Also, direct study still has options for these pre-planned trips and parties. Remember the exchange program Erasmus that I mentioned earlier? If you are in Europe, most universities have an Erasmus Student Network, and their purpose is to connect all the international students together by planning events throughout the semester. Even though some events might conflict with your class schedule, this is still a good way to go out during your time abroad.

So, what do you think, would you be better off in a direct exchange program and international student program? I have been abroad on both options, and I think they are great ways to go and experience life abroad. Though, I do admit they are very different, so let me know what you think you would be better off at. Or, if you have been abroad before, what did you do? Was it a good match for you?

 

Why Study Abroad in Spain?

Although I am truly a believer in finding the best place to study abroad, based on who you are and your own interests, I am also a bit biased towards studying abroad in Spain. (Maybe more than “a bit,” I mean, my blog is called Study in España, after all.)

For those who do not know, I studied in Spain twice and am already planning to return there to complete my master’s degree next fall. You could say that I am a little obsessed with studying there.

So, whenever anyone asks me why they should study in Spain, well, I list off about a million reasons. But, honestly, I think that Spain is such a great country to study in. After all, just about anyone could find their perfect spot there.

I think a lot of people believe that Spain is just a country with a singular culture, and this is definitely not the case! Spain has many distinct regions, each having their own particular personality. For example, I had a completely different in experience in Murcia than I did in Barcelona, and no, different does not mean bad! It just shows you that even traveling a few hours by train away, you could experience another style of Spanish life.

Each region of Spain has its unique culture and traditions, and I believe this is what makes the country so great.

In addition to the variety of cultures active in Spain, the climate differs from region to region. Andalusia is one of the warmest regions in the country, as well as the sunniest. However, Galicia has a cooler climate than the rest of Spain, and very noticeably green (probably due to all of the rain). This makes it quite easy to pick the most ideal spot for you.

I also loved that it was easy to find a decent-sized city for everyone. There are some people who love large cities, and that makes Madrid and Barcelona perfect for them. However, I preferred a medium-sized city, which made Murcia and Seville ideal destinations for me. There are also small cities, like Toledo – as well as towns. This really makes Spain a great country for everyone.

Of course, what I have claimed about Spain could be the case for any country in the world. There really is something for everybody in Spain! Hopefully, if you have not experienced living or studying there yet, you will have the opportunity to see this place for yourself soon.

For those who have been to Spain, what is your favorite region, and why?

What Study Abroad Can Teach You

One specific type of article I remember reading a lot of before studying abroad for the first time was about how much study abroad can teach you. At first, I read these articles rolling my eyes because simply, I thought they were overly exaggerated. However, now that I have been abroad myself, I can definitely agree with the statement that “study abroad teaches you so much.”

Even if you are only abroad for a month, or if  you are studying for a year in another country, you will learn more than you ever would if you were at your home university.

Firstly, you learn how to learn in a new way.

In Murcia, I studied Spanish literature directly at Universidad de Murcia. I knew that taking courses in literature would be quite different than at home. Obviously, because in a Spanish university, the courses would be primarily for individuals who had been speaking Spanish all/most of their lives. So, a lot of what I learned in my literature classes at home was the bare minimum in Spanish university. The concepts I learned were simply basic ideas, and these ideas were meant to lead me into interpreting/analyzing the literature more.

Simply, I was learning much more about Spanish literature than I ever would have at home.

Secondly, you learn about a variety of cultures, and you also learn more about your own.

You are not just learning about your host culture when abroad. You are also absorbing information about other exchange students’ cultures. I think this is an incredible experience, in such a short amount of time, you learn so much about this great, big world and the people in it.

Also, you learn so much about your own culture, and you are able to identify with it more. Before living in Murcia, I felt ashamed being American. Mainly, because I felt like I did not identify with the American culture. However, being abroad taught me that I do belong to this culture. Even though I do not agree with all the aspects, it is still where I am from.

Next, you learn more about who you are. Study abroad forces you to be independent, from the second that you jump on the plane. You have to figure out everything by yourself upon arrival. As a result of pretty much being thrown abroad without entirely knowing what to do, you quickly learn a lot about yourself.

Lastly, you learn to love living abroad. After all, study abroad is such a unique experience. Even if you go abroad for a short amount of time, in that time, you learn so much about a new home and culture. In addition, you meet tons of incredible people from all over the world. You travel to new cities and countries you thought you would never see, and simply, you fall in love with the idea of always living this way.

For those who have been abroad, what did study abroad teach you? And for those planning to go abroad, what do you hope to learn while being abroad? I’d love to hear your responses in the comments below.