The cost of study abroad programs can often be challenging for cash-strapped students, but a scholarship opportunity at the University allows interested students to build scholarship funds by buddying up with an international student on campus.
The LSU Office of International Programs runs the LSU Study Abroad Scholarship. The office assigns domestic students an international student to engage with for the semester. Students earn points, which translate into scholarship funds. Each point is worth $10.
Marissa Baham, program manager at Academic Programs Abroad, said the opportunity is a great way for students to learn about other cultures and lifestyles.
“Students are assigned an international partner, and throughout the semester, they’re like a conversation buddy for someone, or a Louisiana ambassador, a roommate,” Baham said.
In addition to the Study Abroad Scholarship, there are several other scholarships available to apply for on APA’s website. If students want to go during the fall or spring semesters, they can use TOPS funding to pay their tuition.
Jordan Vernon, marketing and outreach coordinator for APA, said study abroad programs are beneficial to students because they are great opportunities for safe travel.
“It just kind of expands your worldview,” Vernon said. “You get to see different people from different walks of life.”
Mass communication senior Julieta Barreto studied abroad in Madrid, Spain, last spring. She said she had wanted to study abroad since seventh grade and that a misconception exists about the cost of studying abroad. She paid about the same rent in Spain as she does in Baton Rouge, and also paid the same tuition for a normal semester.
“The things that you’re paying extra for are the extra trips, but in terms of cost-of-living, it was similar as to what you’d be paying here,” Barreto said.
Barreto had only positive things to say about her time overseas. For instance, she said she had no problem with walking alone at night in Madrid, but said she would not feel safe doing so on campus. She also said her listening abilities improved and she found it easier to be patient when talking to people.
Barreto said at first she had trouble connecting with the other students because many of them had been friends for years, but soon became well-acquainted with them. One of her friends planned on studying abroad in Connecticut, and so they took turns speaking in English and Spanish to help each other improve.
International studies senior and APA peer adviser Courtney Kovacs had similarly positive thoughts on her summer 2018 trip to Granada, Spain.
Her trip was a five-week stay with a local resident. She took two classes at the University of Granada and enjoyed excursions to surrounding areas. She said after just a week she noticed improvement in her Spanish-speaking skills.
“You’re using [Spanish] constantly, in the class, on excursions, at home, anywhere you were walking,” Kovacs said. “Even if you did mess up, the locals were very understanding.”
Kovacs said studying abroad was one of the best things she’s done while in college.
“Honestly just go. If you have any ounce of your body that wants to go travel, just go,” Kovacs said.