Study Abroad: Funding Your Trip

When I started thinking about studying abroad, one of the first things that I wanted to know was how much it actually cost to do so.  At UNC Asheville, students usually pay tuition for their study abroad experience directly to UNC Asheville (the same cost as attending university here).  However, if you do a very short-term program or if you follow the same path that I did (attending a university with which UNC Asheville does not have an established relationship), you'll pay directly to the school abroad.

In the end, regardless of whether you pay UNC Asheville or a foreign university, you're going to need money to pay for living expenses once you arrive at your destination.  You'll probably be following a meal plan or living with a host family during your time abroad, so theoretically you won't have to worry so much about budgeting for food, but you will definitely have other things that you either need or want to purchase.  For example, when I was in South Korea, I had to buy bedding, towels, and shower supplies, none of which I had even thought about bringing.  I also found that in Korea, many people meet their friends for coffee, which generally starts at $5.50 (small size), and, as a consequence, I frequented coffee shops upwards of three times a week.  These excursions were great for socializing and studying, but ended up being pretty expensive.  My point: you're going to need money.  

Luckily, there are a ton of scholarships available to help offset these costs.  If you're receiving federal aid money, this will carry over when you pay the tuition for your semester or year abroad to UNC Asheville.  Here are just a few sources that offer funding:

  • Many organizations and institutions actually offer scholarships to those seeking to expand cultural horizons abroad.   From my experiences, there are a lot more scholarships available for study abroad in more "popular" countries like France, Italy, Spain, and so forth, so if you're planning on visiting any of these places, you've definitely got a lot of options.  Many organizations have essay or video contests for varying sums to be applied to experiences abroad.  
  • UNC Asheville also offers a fairly competitive scholarship for study abroad (based, I believe, on need as well as academic merit).  You can find information on these scholarships on the Study Abroad website, there are a lot of study abroad resources listed to help.  
  • The US government also provides scholarships for study abroad, especially if you are studying in a region whose language is considered to be "critical."  These scholarships tend to be more focused on long-term language acquisition, so although I was travelling to a country whose language is currently considered "critical," I was not eligible for the scholarship because my program was for only five weeks.  Frustrating?  Yes. 
  • Local organizations such as the Rotary Club also offer scholarships for study abroad.  If you're interested in attaining one of these scholarships, you need to apply early. I missed the deadline for my application by about a year.  
TIP: I would recommend a quick Google search for available funding.  You can search for scholarships by region and college major.  I found that some of the most popular destination-oriented scholarships included China, Japan, Germany, and Italy.I investigated, and applied to several Asia-Pacific oriented scholarships when I was preparing for my trip.  Because I am not a math or science major, I was unable to apply for scholarships which I would otherwise have been well-qualified.

Have I exhausted you?  I hope not, but  do want to make it clear that although it's costly to study abroad, there are so many resources available to help make it happen.  As a student hoping to study in a foreign country, you should realize that because there are so many resources, it can be pretty daunting to try to navigate the various websites, brochures, and applications until you find that will ultimately be the most help to you.  The information I have provided is really just, as they say, the "tip of the iceberg," and should get you thinking about the world of information and aid out there to the student who looks.

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Study Abroad: Some Background

Before I really get the ball rolling on these study abroad posts, I guess I should tell you a little bit about myself.  In my master plan for my university life, I had hoped to study abroad for a semester in the fall of my junior year.  However, some unforeseen factors caused me to transfer to UNC Asheville during my sophomore year.  When I arrived, I was very nervous about whether credits had transferred, and how long it would take me to complete everything: would I even be able to graduate on time?  Would I have the time, or the funds, to make my study abroad hopes a reality?  I was pretty nervous.  Maybe some of you are in that position right now.  However, with the help of my adviser, and the Study Abroad office, I was able to make it happen. 

I am now a senior here at UNC Asheville with a major in International Studies and minors in History and Asian Studies.  My motivations for studying abroad were a combination of major requirements and personal interests.  It is also relevant to note that I chose to study in a university with which UNC Asheville does not have an official or established relationship (yet).  This information should help you understand where I was coming from as a person and as a student, when I was preparing for my trip. 

TIP:  When you’re thinking about studying abroad, it’s important to remember that you’re also going to study, not just experience a new culture.  So, you should take into consideration schools or programs where you’re guaranteed to get credit for your studies abroad.  This mostly applies for people who are planning to do short-term study, or who are looking at a university not affiliated with UNC Asheville, but is important to mention.  In my case, I found a school well known for its Korean language instruction program, offering 6 credit hours for an intensive 5-week program.  However, I had to go through a fairly lengthy process with the Study Abroad office to ensure that this credit would transfer back to UNC Asheville.  In the end, the e-mails back and forth, and meetings with, members of the Study Abroad office were well worth the effort, as it meant that I was able to study in the school of my choosing, and from a practical standpoint, ensure that the time and resources I put into the trip were not wasted. 

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So...What About Study Abroad?

I was recently asked to write a bit about my study abroad experience this past summer, so I thought that with the Study Abroad Fair coming up on Wednesday, this would be a good time to do so.  As I was thinking about what I wanted to share with you, I reflected on my days as a high school student hoping to study abroad in college. At that time, sitting nervously in some university’s Q&A session, all I wanted to do was go beyond the face of things, and really get to know what it meant to study abroad.  I wanted to know more than what was offered by pamphlets and information sessions.  How could I get involved with a study abroad program?  How would I choose where I wanted to go?  How would I pay? What were study abroad experiences really like, beyond the selected reports from students and faculty members in the study abroad brochures?  Just..."how," beyond the basic facts offered by university representatives or student tour guides. 

Remembering all of these questions I once had, I thought that it might be useful for you if I described my personal study abroad experience on this blog.  To this end, I have decided to break down my trip into several posts chock full of information, pictures, and advice.  I’ll share a little bit about how I selected, prepared for, and anticipated my trip, and then what actually happened, and finally, how I felt upon returnIf, at any point, you have questions about something I mention (or don't talk about), please leave a comment and I'll do my best to answer them!  What do you think?  Would that be helpful? 

I’ll start posting about this on Wednesday, and will try to post once a week on this topic, so keep checking in to learn more~ 
 Day one of my trip: Goodbye, Blue Ridge Mountains!

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NC Center for Health and Wellness, Part II

The architecture of the NC Center for Health and Wellness is so distinct that it's definitely going to allow the building to become one of the "landmarks" (like Governor's Hall and Ramsey Library) of the UNC Asheville campus.  While I think it is very important to show you more of the inside of the center, I wanted first to give you a general idea of just how enormous this building is, so that when I post more about the center later, you can sort of put what you're reading into context.  Enjoy this virtual walk around the outside of the NC Center for Health and Wellness, and let me know if you have any questions~

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Transylvania County's 150th Anniversary

Over Labor Day, one of my roommates, a Brevard, NC native, invited us to her hometown to attend the festivities surrounding the 150th anniversary of Transylvania County, which is located to the south of Buncombe County (home to Asheville).  What a day!  The amount of preparation that went into this celebration was impressive.  We munched on free popcorn and sipped refreshing lemonade as we wandered the picturesque streets of downtown Brevard, where booths were set up displaying local crafts and foods, and where citizens reenacted some typical professions of citizens at the founding of the county over a century ago.  The festivities would not have been complete without the petting zoo, square dancing, and giant cake, from which a white squirrel (for which Brevard is known) unexpectedly emerged, much to the delight of the crowd.  It was so much fun to just take in the atmosphere, enjoy the entertainment, and spend the beautiful summer afternoon with friends whom I hadn't seen in months.

If you're interested in travelling around Western North Carolina, I strongly suggest a day trip to Brevard.  You can explore the town and Brevard College campus, or you can head into Pisgah Forest for some wonderful hiking and scenery (more posts on this to come!).

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NC Center for Health and Wellness, Part I

Freshman Fifteen.

This is a topic that usually seems to pop up when you talk about beginning your university life.  I had this conversation with friends and family, and I'm sure this is something on some of your minds.  Today, I'm here with a little bit of hope:  the "Freshman Fifteen" can totally be avoided.

UNC Asheville's dining facilities already help make this possible by serving a variety of healthy foods.  If you play your cards right, this may be all it takes to help you stave off those notorious fifteen pounds.  However, for the sake of your own health, I would suggest adding an exercise regimen to your daily schedule.  Asheville offers its residents chances to improve their health through walking, hiking, and biking (among other exciting activities!), but maybe you're not one for hiking, or perhaps the weather is unpleasant.  Worry not!  The newly finished NC Center for Health and Wellness at UNC Asheville offers a great space for recreation as well as exercise.

Construction on the center finished just before the opening of school this semester, and when I visited for the first time, I felt that it was well worth the wait.  This health and wellness center is beautifully designed and a fun place to exercise, attend class, or support the Bulldogs.  I think my mouth was hanging open for the 20 or 30 minutes that it took me to explore the new addition to the UNC Asheville campus because seriously, this place is impressive.  I was so excited to take pictures and share this place with all of you.

In the interest of not overwhelming you with details and pictures, I've decided to divide my tour of the NC Center for Health and Wellness into several parts.  Today, I'm going to show you all the fitness center.  (Awesome).

As you can see, this part of the facility offers an incredibly bright and open space for exercise, as well as a huge number of cardio and weight machines.  My favorite feature of this center is its huge windows, which allow a feeling of closeness to the beauty outside.  A wonderful place to work out!

As usual, please let me know if you have any questions, or want more information about a specific topic.  More on the NC Center for Health and Wellness to come, so subscribe and check in often! 

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Welcome Back~

Hello and welcome back to another semester at UNC Asheville!  Did you have a good summer?  I have recently returned from a summer study abroad program in South Korea, and am excited to be back on campus once again!  Let's get ready for another great semester~

So what's new?  Apart from the changes to our campus which I'll reveal to you later this week, I am very excited to share the link to our new photo blog, "Bulldog Lens."  This is something I've come up with as a fun and quick way to share "snapshots" of life on and off campus here in Asheville, NC.  I'll try to upload a new picture every day to give you various perspectives on what it's like to live as a "Bulldog."  This will be a great way to introduce UNC Asheville and Western North Carolina to anyone  interested in living on or off campus, and in taking advantage of everything that the area has to offer.

This semester, I have a lot to share with you, so please stay tuned and subscribe to our blogs to learn even more about what life is like here at UNC Asheville.  

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