Cultural exchange programs – When I was in high school, I spent a summer living abroad (2011) with a Finnish host family through the Senate-US Youth Exchange program via Youth for Understanding (YFU). YFU is an organization that focuses on getting high school students to spend a school year or summer abroad. It offers a few scholarships, such as FSUYE. I was 1 of 14 students awarded the scholarship, which required a $500 co-pay and covered everything, including flights (although now the scholarship requires you to pay $3,000). For more information about my time in Finland, I kept (or at least attempted to keep) a blog about my summer abroad. This was couple years ago, so the amount of scholarships available has probably went down. My sister applied for a scholarship to go to Japan through YFU – decisions come out later in March so fingers crossed!! With or without scholarships, programs like these are great to get your foot in the door to traveling. ***Keys to success: research! programs like these are competitive, so it’s vital to put together the best possible application***
Study Abroad – During the spring semester of my Sophomore year at FIU (2015), I studied abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina. I was fortunate enough to have my FIU scholarship cover my tuition at the Universidad de Belgrano, so I only had to pay for my housing, travel, and other personal spendings. Although it is important to know that you will have to pay the same tuition abroad as you do at home, regardless of the actual tuition of the foreign school: good if you go to a public university, bad if you go to an expensive private school. Within FIU, I applied for additional scholarships and earned a $500 scholarship from the Latin American and Caribbean Center. Although $500 may not be much, it’s better than nothing – for me, it was one month’s worth of rent! Also, in Buenos Aires I taught conversational English for a little extra cash and because of my job, I was able to travel around South America! ***Keys to success: start planning to study abroad plans early, apply for internal and external scholarships, teach English to get extra $$$***
Teaching abroad – Now that I am graduating FIU, I’ve been looking into programs to teach English abroad and give myself a gap year before continuing my education. Personally, I am applying to the Language and Culture Assistant program in Spain. However there are a few other programs to teach in Chile, China, South Korea, France, and Colombia! Some programs offer a decent monthly salary but it’s always better to teach English on the side for additional cash. Programs in China and Japan require a teaching certificate, but they also pay a lot more than the other programs, so it’s important to weigh the pros and cons of different programs. Also, all the programs I’ve mentioned are government-sponsored, but there are maaany programs that will place you in countries for a [sometimes hefty] fee. ***Keys to success: do your research, see what program works best for you***
The possible opportunities to go travel are unlimited. There are also tons of volunteer opportunities, most notably the Peace Corps, that will have you out there in a different country. However, research is key in finding the opportunities that are right for you! These are just some of the programs I have personally looked into and applied for, but here’s a more extensive list of possible grants and scholarships to travel abroad.
Once you go out into the world and get the travel bug, the hungrier you are to travel! However, traveling is a privilege that many people do not have and it’s important to never take for granted any travel opportunity! Each trip is a gift in it of itself and will leave you a better and more self-aware person than you were before. My advice? Find a way to see the world and make it happen!