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We all know being a college student is stressful! Yes, you have to balance work, studies, extracurriculars, and a social life, but arguably the hardest part of all is that you have four years to fit everything in without a single regret.
While in college, I asked everyone college graduate I knew two important questions: What is the thing you loved most about college? And what was the thing you most regretted? And every single time, they told me that either going abroad was one of the best experiences of their lives, or that they regretted not going abroad more.
Traveling abroad while you are a student has become ever increasingly popular. The number of college students that study abroad has almost doubled in the past 15 years, according to Forbes. It is one of the only chances you have to experience something new while you are young and have flexible life plans. And who knows? It might even change your entire list of goals.
iXperience Cape Town – sunrise hikes on Lion's Head
But despite how fantastic an experience abroad can be, the two factors that most often hold students back are time and money.
We have the perfect answer for the question of time: take your summer abroad! Summers are the ideal three to four month long hiatus from the daily stresses of school. There is no longer any need to worry about fitting in credits and classes. Instead, you have the full potential to enjoy your experience, gain new (employable) skills, and focus on learning and living.
But what about money? What exactly can you do as a college student to fund a summer abroad?
1. Look to your school
iXperience campus in Cape Town's V&A Waterfront
Although they might not be well publicized, a lot of colleges have special funding programs for summers abroad. Some of them might be for specific majors/projects, or specific people, for example, a women in technology scholarship.
Check out your college’s career counseling center or online portal. Get in contact with a career counselor from your school. Even if your school does not have funding for your specific summer abroad plan, they will be able to direct you to further resources.
There are a ton of opportunities that don’t get snatched up at all every year. Take advantage of all of them!
2. Check out travel, needs-based, and merit scholarships
iXperience 2018 students Exploring Lisbon
In the unlikely case that your school can’t help you at all, there are so many online resources. And there are many scholarships specifically for international students looking to go abroad!
Check out merit and needs-based scholarships like the Golden Key, Fund for Education Abroad (FEA), Benjamin A. Gillman International Scholarship for underrepresented applicants, or the Hi USA Travel Scholarship. These can all be found online on scholarship databases like GoAbroad. For students applying to iXperience, ask about the Referral Program, designed to help students reduce their tuition costs.
As always, search early, apply early, get help, and stay organized, if you are planning on trying for a few scholarships.
3. Get a side hustle
iX students exploring Berlin's vinyl stores
As students have done since the beginning of time, get a side job to supplement your funds. And don’t limit yourself to tiring, laborious work that pays under minimum wage, like being a server or a bartender.
Thanks to a small thing called the internet, there are hundreds of avenues for you. You could drive for Uber or deliver food for GrubHub. You can even find a job that makes the most of your skills - for example, freelancing with blogging or coding, or starting a store on Etsy to sell your own handmade products. Check out Upwork if you've got some skills to share with the world.
Don’t let funds keep you from your dream summer abroad! With a dash of creativity, a hint of resourcefulness, and some good old determination, you can definitely find a path there. And the journey might even be fun!