Posts Tagged With: Study Abroad

Funding your Study Abroad Trip

Studying abroad can be very expensive, and there are many students who never take the opportunity to study abroad because of lack of funding. This is so unfortunate, and students should really take the time to research scholarships and financial aid, especially with so many resources available.

Here are some tips that I found helpful when funding my experience to Ghana….

  • Firstly, contact your study abroad office to see if there are scholarships or grants funded though your university. If you are an Otterbein student, talk to the Center for International Education and Global Engagement for information on the Cultural Envoy scholarship and several more.

 

  • Definitely make an appointment with your Financial Aid office. Some universities allow you to use a portion of your financial aid, and your student loans and grants may also carry over to your overseas institution.

 

  • Research for local, regional and national scholarships in your area. One challenging but amazing scholarship opportunity is the Benjamin Gilman International Scholarship, through the Federal government. Check out the application at https://gilmanapplication.iie.org/. I was lucky enough to receive this scholarship and I am so glad that I took the time to apply.

 

  • Ask family and friends for help! A year before my trip, I send homemade Christmas cards to family asking for help to fund my experience in Ghana. You will be surprised to see how supportive your loved ones can be!

 

  • Budgeting and saving money is of course an important method. It is worth it to see the world!
     
  • There are several opportunities for student discounts on flights and other travel needs. Try http://www.studentuniverse.com for discounted plane tickets. 

 

  • Lastly, be sure to consider the different ways of studying abroad and their costs. You can sign up for a student exchange through your university, use an outside state or national study abroad program, or you may directly enroll at a university abroad (which is the option I chose). The financial obligations differ greatly between these options.
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A Day in the Life: Legon International Student

When I am not traveling around the country, I am experiencing student life at Legon. Here is a description of my typical week day…

 

I wake up and jump into the cold shower generally with some bugs and/or gecko friends. I normally have a relaxing oatmeal and coffee breakfast at Tasty Treats, the small and very, very slow restaurant in our dorm. I then head to campus for lectures, which is generally a 30 minute walk through the red dirt paths and roads of Legon campus. After class I may go to the International Programmes Office or run errands on campus, and if I am in a good mood I might grab an iced Nescafe at Aquafo hall. This entire time I am sweating because it is very, very hot here, although my body has accustomed quite well. I then head back to “ISH II”, my hostel, wash the red dirt off my feet and spend time in my room. I get online, message friends, read, journal and sketch, and work on homework. I normally go to the “Night Market”, the small market right behind my hostel, for dinner. In the evenings I normally spend time with friends in the dorm watching movies or out somewhere. I interact with people all over the world each day! Sometimes we even catch a pick-up game of football in the parking lot. Every night have several bizarre dreams because of my anti-Malarial medication, and do my best to keep cool.

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Akwaaba to Ghana!

Week One


After my ten hour plane ride across the Atlantic Ocean, I was overwhelmed with excitement when our plane flew into Accra! It was amazing to look down and see the green trees and deep red dirt of West Africa. When I stepped off the plane I felt the heat immediately–certainly a change from cold Ohio weather. I was picked up from the airport by a member of the International Programmes Office here in Ghana, and was wide-eyed and smiling with my head out of the window the entire ride to my university. The streets were busy with cars, trees, women carrying items on their heads, and street vendors busily selling things.
Once I arrived at my new home (the International Students’ Hostel II, what we call “ISH II”), I was surprised to see how far away my dorm was from the main campus. I was used to Otterbein’s tiny campus community, so this university seemed like a city! My dorm room was certainly not fancy, nor air-conditioned, but my double room was quite nice, with a bed, desk, wardrobe, bookshelf, sofa, side table, and balcony. The hostel overall felt very safe too.
My first few days here I allowed myself to settle in, and I was lucky to meet a lot of international students and Ghanaian students right away. Everyone here has been very welcoming and kind. I heard “Akwaaba!” several times a day, which means “Welcome!” in Twi, the local language in the Greater Accra area. Although I made new friends so quickly, I did struggle with culture shock and homesickness my first few nights here. I was happy and excited, but sometimes emotion overwhelmed me and I longed to be with my friends and family at home. Looking back on it now I understand these emotions, especially since I traveled to a non-Western country all on my own! Ghana is also the first country that I have been to outside of the United States, so feeling some culture shock was completely normal. As the week went on I attended orientation for the University of Ghana, went to the mall to pick up items for my dorm, and spent some time on the nearby beach! It only took a few days for me to completely fall in love with Ghanaian culture and people!


The most exciting day this first week was on Wednesday, which is Reggae night at Labadi Beach, a popular beach very close to our university. It was so much fun to dance and hang out with my friends literally on the beach! There was great music, friendly people, and beautiful waves. That night really made me feel at home in Ghana, and foreshadowed the amazing time I will have these next few months.

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Au Revoir, America!

My first blog post comes from New York City at the JFK airport! I have said goodbye to Ohio and now I am waiting to board my plane to Accra! 

Today has been filled with mixed emotions. I woke up quite groggy this morning with very little sleep, and I was  in disbelief that today actually came. Saying goodbye to my family was sad, but also warming because of how supportive they are. As soon as I entered security in CMH and was officially “on my own”, my disbelief turned into sheer busting excitement and happiness. I have not been able to stop smiling all day! I feel strong, independent and adventurous. It is incredible that after 8 years of dreaming to travel to West Africa, and 2 1/2 years of planning my study abroad program, today has finally come! All of the stress, roadblocks, challenges and worries seem so belittled compared to how satisfied and proud I am of myself. I am also so, so grateful to my family, friends, professors, coworkers and sorority sisters for the unwavering support, love, and belief in me! 

Even my first flight and layover have been an adventure. I have never been to NYC before, so seeing the city (and the smog) from the plane was an exciting sight! Also, this airport has been great for people-watching and conversing, especially since there is such a diverse mix of people. I have heard at least five different languages spoken in only the few hours that I’ve been here. I have also seen several birds flying and walking among the travelers, mainly pigeons! Between the pigeons flying above my head and my Dunkin Doughnuts coffee, I’d say I’ve had somewhat of a legitimate New York experience. 😉

Just in this afternoon I have fallen in love with traveling. I’ve learned quickly that it is so easy to meet people and talk with them if you are willing to smile and strike up a conversation. People are friendlier than we get credit for. 🙂 I cannot wait to practice my people skills with the welcoming Ghanaians!

As the sun begins to set in New York, I am anxiously awaiting my departure to Accra. When I set foot off the plane I will be in the hot, humid tropical region that is beautiful Ghana (the motherland!) I cannot wait to hear “Akwaaba” (“welcome”) from those living in my new home. 

Peace and Love!
Au revoir, America (for the first time in my life)! 

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