One cannot stress enough how enriching studying abroad is. Whether you go to France or Germany, to Peru or Costa Rica, to China or Japan, or to traditional destinations such as the US or Canada, your life will never be the same.
You have the chance to get a world class education, take in a new culture, make lifelong friends, and discover yourself in ways you never knew you could – all at the same time.
The skeptic in you will always ask, can I afford studying abroad? I’m here to tell you that yes, you can.
I came from a developing country and managed to travel the world as a student or, say, an “academic traveler.” I later co-founded a consultancy firm to help others also get that experience.
So here are my top 5 tips on how to raise money and study abroad like a pro.
1. Find a cheap study abroad program
Not all study abroad programs cost a fortune. In fact, you’ll be surprised to find out that in some countries, such as Germany, higher education is free. The same goes for Austria, Finland, Slovenia, Norway and also a bunch of non-European countries. But if you insist on paying, you most certainly don’t have to break the bank or get a hefty loan that will drag you down the rest of your life. There are certainly more cost effective opportunities, all you need to do is look for them.
2. Search for scholarships and financial aid options
There are tons of study abroad scholarships out there. And tons of scholarship databases and directories that can help you narrow down your search. Now, to be fair, getting these scholarships is not always easy. It can depend on your nationality, on your grades, on your research project, on the program, and many other things. But with the right guidance (we’ve got our own team of experts to help you, for instance), your chances are much higher. Before you start, don’t forget to ask your university about your eligibility for financial aid to be applied towards a study abroad program (yes, it actually exists).
3. Fundraising websites
You can contact local groups known for helping organize fundraisers, such as Lions and Rotary clubs. There is also the option to reach out for fundraising websites directly, some of which target students specifically. You can also use these websites to develop a fundraising campaign for your own study abroad trips. You may find random donors, but also mobilize donations from friends and family members. Or, you can…
4. Ask friends and family the good-old fashioned way
You can do that by explaining to your family and friends what a life-changing opportunity a study abroad experience will be, how it will get you hired in the future, how safe it is… and telling them how much you love them! Or, you can also ask them to match funds, such as asking for $100 from ten people, if you raise $1,000 in other ways.
5. Connect with your place of worship
Get in touch with the leader of your personal church, mosque, synagogue, etc., and ask if they support any study abroad experiences. Or, perhaps, if they could hold a special collection round during the service or general meeting specifically in your honor. Or, if they can mobilize a network of donors. You will be surprised how many international students around the world receive financial support from their place of worship.
By Alina Strugut
Alina has a PhD in Global Studies from the University of Leipzig. She was born in Romania and is now currently living in Canada. Alina would describe herself as a “professional traveler,” having turned her research interests into an opportunity to travel the world. She is also the co-founder of Klever Scapes, an international educational consultancy firm helping (prospective) students find study abroad programs and scholarships.