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First Generation Abroad

Introduction

As a first generation student, there is a good chance that going abroad was never part of your plan or seemed out of reach. However, going to U-M may have felt equally daunting or out of reach previously to you. There are many benefits to international experiences that will ultimately make you a stronger candidate for opportunities after you graduate. Furthermore, going abroad does not have to equal financial burden. With the right amount of planning and support from others, you can have an enriching international experience for the same cost, or even cheaper, as a term at home. 

Questions to Consider/Action Items

 General Concerns

When considering going abroad, it is best to seek advice from several people on campus. First, make appointments to speak with your advisors, specifically in international programs, academic advising and financial aid. Many students are unaware that their U-M financial aid can be used towards U-M programs like the ones IPE offers. In addition, talk to students who have already had an international experience abroad. They can give you firsthand advice about the process of living abroad, and will give you the most truthful answers you could want. Some questions you may want to consider are:

  • What kind of international experience do I want to have?
  • How long do I want to go abroad?
  • When would I like to go abroad?
  • What is my budget for my time abroad?
  • How can I make this experience affordable?
  • How can I know I am making the right choice since no one in my family has studied abroad before?
  • How can I find courses that will work for my academic plan?
  • How can I know I am on track in the process?
  • Are there funding sources that I can investigate to support my time abroad?

ACTION ITEMS: 

  • Do your research. Speaking with advisors (IPE, Academic, and Financial Aid) and other students who have gone abroad in the past is a really great way to start, but take the time to look into all your options to ensure that you make the best decision for you. 
  • Find scholarships. There are lots of scholarships that exist for education abroad. Your advisor can help you navigate these. It is important to know that many scholarship deadlines tend to be early so start this process as soon as possible.
  • Find support. Making the decision to go abroad, especially if you’re the first in your family to do so, can be daunting.  Your family and friends may not understand your motivations, or may even think it’s a “vacation”. It’s important to find people in your life who support your decision to go abroad, whether that support comes from friends, family, mentors, or even other students in your cohort. Having people in your life who understand and respect your decision to go abroad can help you feel more comfortable, and can help you ease into your abroad program more smoothly.

Resources

  • Your IPE Advisor can direct you to resources regarding your intended plans for your international experience
  • Diversity Abroad: Diversity Abroad provides resources and tools for diverse students to participate in a study abroad program, with information specific to first-generation students.
  • GoAbroad: An in-depth guide for first-generation travelers including benefits gained from study abroad. This guide also includes some program recommendations that are pre-approved at UofSC.
  • I’m first!: A great resource with information, videos, and blogs from other first-generation students that have studied abroad.

Scholarships

Scholarships:

  • CoE’s Go Global Fund: This fund is run via IPE and intended for first time travelers and students with demonstrated financial need
  • Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship: The U.S. Department of State’s Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship is a grant program that enables students of limited financial means to study or intern abroad.
  • Diversity Abroad: Free database of scholarships for students of various identities.
  • IIE: IIE Generation Study Abroad Travel Grants will be made available for U.S. students from a broad range of backgrounds to make it possible for them to participate in academic, internship or service-learning experiences abroad.
  • Fund for Education Abroad: FEA invests in students with financial need from underrepresented backgrounds who wish to study abroad.