After studying abroad in Granada, Spain, I became obsessed with going abroad. I spent hours talking to people who had done it, researching potential programs, and applying for scholarships and grants.
While the world is currently on “pause,” now is the perfect time to prepare yourself to go abroad. When the borders open again and traveling becomes safe, you’ll be ready.
Thanks to various grants and scholarships, I’ve studied and volunteered in Costa Rica, Egypt, and Spain. I’ve also worked in France and Australia. Helping people go abroad is my mission, so if you’re ready to find out more about my story and how to go abroad, keep reading.
How I got my Rotary Ambassadorial scholarship to Alexandria, Egypt
I first discovered the Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship from a presentation at my university. As a Spanish major, I was looking for any possibility to work, study, or travel abroad following graduation.
Instead of my Spanish skills allowing me to pursue my dream of being abroad, it would be my third language, Arabic, that provided the opportunity. Arabic was considered a critical language in 2009 and was much more valuable to Rotary’s mission of promoting peace around the world than Spanish.
After completing the 25-page application and the first round of interviews, I made it to the final round of interviews for the Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship. I met with a group of Rotarians in my hometown on a sunny, summer afternoon.
The following day I was notified that I had won the scholarship. A few months later I received my assignment to the University of Alexandria in Egypt. About a year after receiving my grant, I boarded a plane to one of my life’s biggest adventures.
How to find your own scholarship to go abroad
Unfortunately, the Rotary no longer offers the Ambassadorial Scholarship. However, I’ve written up a list of grant opportunities for getting funded to go abroad.
1. Peace Corps — volunteer to make a difference in over 60 available countries. Volunteering placements last for 2 years.
2. Rotary Peace Fellowship — compete for a spot to study at one of Rotary’s Peace Centers where you can study conflict resolution, peace studies, and more for one year. There are up to 130 grants awarded each year.
3. Fulbright Scholarship — with a few different varieties, this scholarship gets artists, teachers, researchers, and scholars abroad for one year. You will complete a proposed project, and attend a host institution. There are 470 awards available this year in over 125 countries.
4. Watson Fellowship — $36,000 for graduating seniors towards an independent, year-long project. Your project can take place in multiple countries if you wish. One of 41 participating institutions can nominate you.
5. Critical Language Scholarships — grants to study and improve critical languages abroad as part of a summer study abroad program.
For further opportunities, click HERE.
My advice on how to get a grant to go abroad
Do your research
Make sure you understand exactly what the program entails and who their ideal candidate is. If you have the chance to go to a meeting about the scholarship, do it. I went to meetings at my university, as well as in Chicago. Don’t let mistakes during the application process hurt your chances.
Talk to people who have won the grant to go abroad
Not only will you get a better understanding of the experience, but also an idea of how to apply for the scholarship. One or two years is a long time commitment, so make sure you only apply for grants that fit your personality, goals, and values.
Start early and don’t give up
I applied for the Fulbright two times. I even got to the final round of candidates for the Ambassadorial Scholarship twice! There are a lot of candidates, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t get it on your first try. Improve your application each time and keep looking for more opportunities! The applications are long and tedious, but it’s worth it when you win the chance of a lifetime.
Check with your university or company for smaller grants
I was able to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity in Costa Rica on a grant from the Geology department of my university. I didn’t have to be a Geology major to apply, and since no one else applied, I won the grant!
Working, studying, and living abroad is an amazing experience. It helps you grow as a person and opens your eyes to the beauty in the differences we all share. You control your destiny. I hope you are ready to take the first step.
If you have any questions, please leave a comment below!