Studying Abroad in College

During my junior year of college, I studied abroad in Paris, France as part of a literature course for my major. I had always been intrigued by authors of the 20th century such as Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, and Langston Hughes, and this course allowed me to spend a month reading their work and exploring Paris in their eyes.

I was able to visit places for which they spent their time and some of the locations where they lived. It was an incredible journey to visit a place for which I had been immersed in at home through their books, and now I was able to walk in their steps in person. The rest of the course had us spend our time absorbed in our surroundings and writing on our experience.

For me, this was the first time I had been abroad. It was all very new for me, and I loved every moment of it.

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Super awkward picture of me during my first day in Paris

Studying abroad is not a cheap endeavor and is not exactly free, but there are ways to make it feel as though it is free.

I had always shied away from looking into studying abroad because I was not in the right  financial situation to afford such a trip. After talking to a few individuals on my campus, I was connected to quite a few scholarships and study abroad grants to apply to. There are many scholarships out there that are either very broad and can apply to any study abroad trip, or are very specific to your college and destination. I applied to every scholarship and grant that I could, and wound up becoming the recipient of a few. I was able to use this money to pay for my flight, as well as finance much of my trip abroad.

The financial aspect shouldn’t be the reason you give up on studying abroad. Make sure you connect with someone on your campus who has knowledge of studying abroad and scholarships/grants. This most likely will be your study abroad office. At my school, they were key for me connecting with these opportunities. The thing is, there are so many opportunities out there that many students aren’t aware of.

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The line I was about to embark on for the Palace of Versailles
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The Palace of Versailles

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The first week or so, I will say I spent my time doing mainly the touristy things. I went to locations such as Notre-Dame de Paris and the climbed to the top of the Eiffel Tower. After a bit, I started doing things that were less touristy and spent time exploring the city.

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IMG_1293IMG_1482IMG_1697IMG_1649IMG_1217From Paris, a group of students and I decided to jump on a bus and take a day trip to London. It was really inexpensive, and for being so cheap it was comfortable and safe. The bus traveled overnight so that we arrived in the morning, allowing us to just sleep the whole way.

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London was an extraordinary experience, and I appreciate my time in the city. In our short time there, we tried to do the touristy stops within the city such as the London Eye,  Shakespeare’s Globe, and Platform 9 3/4.

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Of course I ensured I had a proper English breakfast to start my day.

Food is always my main priority…

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Glimpse at the London Eye

We also took a day trip to Belgium. Again, we jumped on a bus and a few hours later we were there. We went on the perfect day because when we went there was a street fair with all sorts of great goodies and scrumptious food. I love local events such as that, it allows me to meet people and eat food that maybe I wouldn’t otherwise.

What I loved the most about the city is the street art that covered the buildings (I have a pictured below). Walking through the streets was like walking through an outdoor art museum, and I was consistently left in awe.

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Take up any opportunity to travel more once you arrive at your study abroad location. The opportunities may differ depending on location in regards to distance and costs, but if you are able to definitely jump on the opportunity. Traveling to England and Belgium only added to my experience.

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I am going to make the most cliche mini-speech here, but studying abroad truly changed me. As a college student at that time, this was the first time I traveled abroad and was so far away from the place I was comfortable in. It was an eye-opening experience to see another part of the world, other than what I was used to. At that age, it really helped to propel me forward. Also, as a born introvert it really…really…took me out of my comfort zone. I was forced to break out of my shell, in a good way!

As a college student, studying abroad is a really beneficial experience. I believe immersing yourself into positive new experiences is so important, especially at a young age.

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Check out this website for different scholarships!

And this one!

Have you studied abroad before? If so, where?

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Author: elementsofhill

Feminist, coffee enthusiast, writer.

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