I know it’s Winter break, but study abroad scholarship deadlines for summer, fall, and academic year-long programs are going to come up fast!  The Boren campus deadline is in January, PKP is in February, and there are more in March and April.  Now is the perfect time to get started!

By applying for scholarships, you’re essentially asking a stranger to help you pay for your experience abroad. You have to make your request stand out!   Here are a few tips to make your application the most convincing one possible.

• Review eligibility criteria & ensure you meet ALL necessary requirements before applying! If you meet some, but not all, or have any questions, contact the giving organization.

• Learn about the organization providing the scholarship.

o Why did they create the scholarship? What do they hope that students will accomplish with the money?

o Be sure to address how you fit those interests/needs in your application, particularly the essay.

• Answer all the questions they ask in the essay.  Your essay should address every point they’re looking for in a concise, and engaging manner.  Remember that the essay is usually your only chance to distinguish yourself from the rest of the applicant pool!

• Proofread. Then proofread again. Even one error could take you out of the running. Watch for tricky misspellings like “aboard” vs. “abroad”. Take advantage of the Writing Center for something this important!

• Choose references wisely. If your scholarship requires references, put some thought into who can best represent you.

o Make sure your reference(s) know you well and are appropriate for the scholarship.  (Never use a family member as a reference!)

o Get to know professors before references are required, or at least hold on to some of your papers/assignments to help jog a professor’s memory of you.

o Provide a summary of the scholarship program so that the professor can speak to your abilities as they relate to that organization.

Those are just a few things you can do to make sure you’re the best candidate possible. For more information on scholarships, and upcoming deadlines, see the scholarship listings website.

Good luck!

Avelino Solomon was a recipient of several OSU and outside scholarships for his experience through the College of Business in Thailand
Avelino Solomon was a recipient of several OSU and outside scholarships for his experience through the College of Business in Thailand

Education Abroad and Funding: What you should know!

So you think going abroad would be cool, but there’s no way you can afford it? Before you make that decision, be sure to check out the facts!

Fact one: What’s the bottom line?

How much will your time abroad cost? You can get a budget estimate through your program provider online and/or from your study abroad advisor! Be sure that budget includes big things like flight and insurance as well as day-to-day expenses like local transportation and laundry.

Now you have a final cost.  If this is the program and location for you, let’s look at the other facts.  But if it’s more than you want to pay, how about looking at other options? Is there a cheaper program in the same country, or another country that would work?

Fact two: Financial aid can help!

Because you are an OSU student going on an approved OSU program, you will be eligible for financial aid just as you would here on campus – with one key difference. We’ll pass your study abroad budget on to the Financial Aid office. If your program costs more than regular OSU attendance, and you haven’t already maxed out your aid, they can offer you options to help meet the cost!

But you can’t get financial aid unless you file a FAFSA. So make sure to file it as early as possible to get the ball rolling. And don’t fear loans. If you’re committed to making it happen, have a plan in place…and if you happen to get scholarships to replace the loans, so much the better! And that brings us to our final fact.

Fact three: Scholarships are out there.

There are scholarships available from a variety of sources here at OSU, as well as private organizations, and even the federal government! These range greatly – from $500 to up to $20,000. As you can imagine, some of these scholarships are highly competitive.

In general, there are more scholarships available to students who can demonstrate severe financial need, those in non-traditional study abroad majors (such as science or engineering), and/or those going to non-traditional countries (outside of Western Europe and Australia). By going off the beaten path, you may be able to find less expensive opportunities with more scholarship money available. In addition, many scholarships or program fee reductions are available for students who choose to stay for an academic year versus a term/semester.

Many scholarship deadlines will come up around 4-6 months before you go abroad, but some are more than a year in advance. Be sure to start looking early!

Fact four:  It’s worth it!

An experience abroad is an investment in yourself, as well as your future.  You can gain wonderful personal and professional skills by studying or interning abroad (cross-cultural communication, independence, adaptation, creative problem-solving, self-confidence, and more!).  Beyond these specific skills, an experience abroad is truly a life-changing experience.  Do it – it’s worth it!

Edinburgh Castle photo courtesy of IE3 Global Internships
Edinburgh Castle photo courtesy of IE3 Global Internships

The walk from the bus stop on London Street down Abbey Hill toward Parliament only takes 15 minutes but heads up! Be alert for doggy piles, cigarette butts, pigeon poop, the occasional puddle of vomit and a twist of razor wire  – we are in the city, you know! Scan the skies for pigeons and tar drippings when walking under the train trestle in this seedy pocket of neighborhood, but then…..THEN (cue harps and angels) emerging from this darkness ~ BEHOLD!  Holyrood Palace on your left and behind is the glorious Arthur’s Seat (a small mountain made by volcanic rock) looming over her with Parliament only one block further. The perfect trifecta!  You now find yourself at the base of the Royal Mile, the famous street that leads uphill from Parliament to Edinburgh Castle at the top. You’ll find shops and pubs and medieval historical and ghost tours right here on the main vein of the city. The people watching is endless ~ if you want history and excitement, you could spend a full week on this street.

Scottish Parliament, photo courtesy of Michele Justice
Scottish Parliament, photo courtesy of Michele Justice

It’s time to enter Parliament and start work. The nautical images with bamboo, glass, and steel make a person wonder at the architectural elements. Sadly, the designer passed away before his work was complete which leaves much of the building’s ambiance a puzzle and open to interpretation.  Guides say the use of glass gives a person the idea that the government employees are easily accessible to the public.  First step while inside: show Security official badge strung around my neck. This maneuver makes me feel important and very official. Security guards are dressed in purple shirts and ties ~ the hue represents the color of Scotland’s native flower, the thistle.  Next step: beeline to café for morning dose of mocha from friendliest barista who calls me “luv”. When you’re new to a country and culture, even the smallest kind gestures mean a lot.  Now, gather the hot drink and go through the first of many heavily secured doors to get to desired tower. Note to self: place official pass in front of small box to right of door and wait for beep. There’s a tricky dance involved that requires timing and patience when using your pass. Make sure not to hold it in front of fire security box or any of the other three boxes that look suspiciously identical or you will be waiting for the door to unlock, and it just won’t happen. I did this once with a group of six people behind me. Luckily a Scottish friend corrected me, laughed softly at my ignorance and I proceeded to turn beet red. Once up safely on the fourth floor, I round the corner to my desk with its phone, computer, file cabinets….a certified office nook! I am an official Intern to a Member of Scottish Parliament (MSP) and couldn’t feel prouder.

The days are filled with activity. One day I may be drafting letters to politicians from other countries, or doing research and compiling information about the MSP’s Cross-Party Groups.  I was fortunate to get to learn everything I could about Visual Impairment issues in Scotland, the Housing Crises, Knife Crimes, and Funerals and Bereavement. Here’s an interesting bit of information about the latter: in order to create a smaller carbon footprint, it’s becoming possible to freeze a dead body, shatter it, then grind it into a powder to be kept in a special place or scattered into the wind. It is an eco-friendly method that prevents trees from being cut down for coffins and prevents smoke from polluting the air from cremation. This is only ONE of the many exciting things I learned during the internship.

Some days I stuff envelopes, run errands, or escort special guests up to the office from the Garden Lobby. Other days I work on projects like searching for postal codes for constituents, answering phones, filing, or attending meetings and receptions in the evening. There is always something exciting to do and learn, and sometimes the best experiences are the simple ones, like when you find yourself sharing an elevator with a friendly person who wants to chat. As soon as you exchange pleasantries, the next comment will certainly be this, “Are you from Canada or the states?”

In the evening I often join a small group of MSP’s and their Assistants or other random Parliamentary staff for drinks up the Royal Mile at the Toll Booth Tavern. This is a wonderful authentic old pub built in 1591 and originally used as a place to collect taxes and as a jail. In 1820 it became a tavern and I must say, has delicious french-fries!  Of course I was corrected, they are called “chips”, and American “potato chips” are “crisps”.

By 9PM I am getting sleepy and I still have to walk 15 minutes to the nearest bus stop and take the 30 minute ride back to my sea-side apartment in Portobello. As I ride the bus at night, I reflect on the day and think about what tomorrow will bring. An elderly man gets on the bus and stands in front of me holding the railing. I touch him on the arm and ask, “Would you like my seat?” and as I start to stand up, he replies, “No thank you, luv. I’m not as old as I look.” And we both have a giggle.


Upon completing her IE3 internship, Margaret O’Neill returned to Scotland to look for full-time employment. She is  now a Parliamentary Assistant to Mr. Alastair Morgan MSP in his constituency office in Dalbeattie, Scotland.

during the summit for MERCOSUR. From left to right: Hubert  Laferrière, Vice President de Grand Lyon, France; Sergio Barrios, Director of International Relations (my boss); me; Miguel Lifschitz, Mayor of Rosario City Hall; Cecile Durant, intern from France.
During the summit for MERCOSUR. From left to right: Hubert Laferrière, Vice President de Grand Lyon, France; Sergio Barrios, Director of International Relations (my boss); me; Miguel Lifschitz, Mayor of Rosario City Hall; Cecile Durant, intern from France.

Cayla Lopez, Political Science and International Studies Degrees, spent Summer 2009 on an IE3 internship for Rosario City Hall

After only a month in Rosario, Argentina, I already am planning my next trip back. At this point, I am even seriously considering a more permanent return. That is just how much I have grown to love Rosario and all its offerings.

My internship here at the International Relations Departament of the local city hall has been very dynamic and at times unpredictable. Most of my time in the office has been spent doing translation work for various international contracts binding the city of Rosario with other cities all over the world.

Rosario has really pushed forward in the last decade to promote the internationalization of its goverment, enterprise, and people. Apart from playing an important role in MERCOSUR, similar to North America´s NAFTA, Rosario has been acknowledged on numerous occasions for its success in the area of international relations.

MERCOSUR was initially founded by Argentina, Paraguay, Urugauy, and Brasil, but now includes Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, Venezuela, Colombia, and Peru as associate members. The overall purpose of this network is to promote free trade and assist in the movement of goods and currency across South American borders. Over the past few years MERCOSUR has contracted various binding agreements to further stabalize its horizontal structure that links local South American governements with one another. As a result of this horizontal foundation, each signatory country is able to combine its resources and promote its activities with overall economic power of MERCOSUR.

I was fortunate enough to be present for the 14th Annual Summit of the Mercociudades, which was hosted by our department here in Rosario. This once in a lifetime opportunity provided me with first hand experience collaborating and networking with diplomats from all over the world. My role as an intern was to chaperon a group of the representatives around the city to each of the events. Needless to say, this included many perks on my part! Not only was I able to sit-in on many of the conference discussions and observe the various viewpoints from each city that was representated, but I was also permitted to attend the social outtings and planned activities.

Throughout the entire week of the conference, I attended several cultural shows, fancy catered dinners, and cocktail parties. I was even invited to go on a private yacht tour along the breathtaking river that borders the city of Rosario. This was by far the most memorable part of Rosario so far.

Outside of work, I have been keeping myself quite busy spending time with the close knit group of friends I have made. Typically our time is spent having an “asado” or going to a nearby park to drink “mate” and play fútbol. The time I spend at home is greatly cherished and quite relaxing. My host mom and her friend who also lives with us are both exceptional cooks and every dinner for me is like dining at a 5-star restaurant. By the way for any of you who decide to study in Argentina after reading this, the desserts are to die for here! Luckily I have joined a local gym and go nearly everyday to counter-balance my increased intake of sweets! This coming weekend I will be participating in a 15 km run so wish me luck! The rest of my down time I fill with attending my digital photography class, reading books in Spanish, and just having insightful conversations with random strangers and taxi-cab drivers.

One would expect that life in a city the size of Rosario would be a lot more fast-pace than it really is, but I am honestly glad that it is not. I have grown to love the long dinner conversations, walking aimlessly down the boulevards while window shopping, and just enjoying life here in my new paradise.