Scholarships help UNA students study abroad

by News Editor Anna Brown

Studying abroad gives students the experience of another culture and valuable skills for the workplace, but do the benefits outweigh the cost?

Director of the Center for Global Engagement and International Affairs Craig Christy said the cost to study abroad is comparable to the cost of studying at UNA for one semester.

“Back in the day, it was hard to study abroad because of the cost,” Christy said. “Studying abroad was something only for the rich kids, but not today. Today, students come to us interested in studying abroad.”

To help students offset the cost of the trip, Christy said UNA offers an $800 scholarship to students interested in studying abroad.

The scholarship is available to all any student regardless of his or her financial situation, he said.

He said the scholarship can be used for any part of the study abroad experience as the student sees fit.

However, he said most students apply the scholarship to airfare, since that is usually the most expensive component of the trip.

Junior Christie Steltmann, who studied in Peru last fall, said she used one of these scholarships to help fund her trip.

“The scholarships graciously awarded through UNA provided a strong leg-up,” she said. “Whatever expenses were needed throughout the travel and escapade while in Peru were spent toward the memories that will lie in our recollections, photo albums, taste buds and conversations.”

As student involvement increases, Christy said he believes the university will set aside more money for study abroad scholarships.

The scholarship helps, but the trips are still expensive, said Graduate student Kayla Kelley.

“It is definitely hard to pay for it, but I just picked up an extra job and budgeted to make it work for me,” she said.

Not only is living abroad an amazing experience, but it also teaches students important transferable skills in communication and problem-solving they can use in their careers, Christy said.

He said he thinks the students’ experiences and stories create interest in studying abroad. He said he thinks word-of-mouth has helped push the study abroad program at UNA.

Some UNA students have found employment while studying abroad, he said.

Senior Dakota MacNeill said he taught English while studying international business in Vichy, France.

“Teaching English really helped me get to know the culture and the local families,” he said. “This was my favorite experience abroad.”

Students should take advantage of this opportunity to travel while in college, he said.

“You are young and have few responsibilities,” he said. “It’s incredible the people you meet and the places you go. It’s very affordable and extremely worth it.”

The trip is worth the work required to save money and acquire a scholarship, said senior Alexandria Kelley.

“There are wonderful people at this university that will do whatever they can to make this trip happen for you as long as you are willing to put in the work too,” she said. “It’s all worth the hard work and months of anticipation once you get where you’re going.”