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You got study abroad money?

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As long as we live, money will always be either the solution or problem itself, allowing or stopping us from doing what we really want to do. For me, it’s studying abroad. I have dreamed of visiting the Colosseum in Rome, closing my eyes and taking a breath of fresh air in a foreign place that somehow seems so familiar. However, money has stopped me from doing so until recently.

When I graduated from high school, I wanted to take my four years of skills and knowledge about Rome to the test by studying abroad, but seeing college’s price tag made me second-guess going overseas anytime soon. Throughout freshman year, I saw videos and tweets of people talking about how much fun they had overseas. I wished I could pack my bags and hop on the next plane but the cost continued to stomp right on my vision. I pushed my dream to the background and continued on with my year.

Everything flipped on its head when Diversity Abroad came and advertised their program in the cafeteria one day last year. I hesitated to walk to their table, worried that talking to them would confirm my thoughts about traveling being too expensive on a college student budget. Imagine my surprise when they told me study abroad could actually be affordable!

To be honest, I looked at them like they had six heads until they explained that the same way I’m paying to attend N.C. Central University is the same way in which I can go to Italy — the scholarships, grants, and loans students might have is how they can pay for the program.

Wanting to confirm this to be true, I went to the Office of International Affairs and told them my fears, finances, and what Diversity Aboard told me. I was reassured that what I was told was correct, and I could also apply for scholarships to cover certain fees. Depending on where I wanted to study, the price of the program could be even cheaper depending on the exchange rate. Apparently, most everyone that comes through the office has the same fears. I wasn’t the first and I won’t be the last.

Leaving the office, I now felt it was finally a possibility to make this dream into something tangible, maybe even a short-term goal.

Now, I’m a junior and starting the legwork on completing the application and research processes. My main focuses are searching for scholarships, learning about other students’ experiences in Italy, and making a list of what I should pack when the time comes.

As kids, we’re told to dream big and reach for the stars. When we get older, our dreams begin to shrink and we no longer reach for the stars, but for the clouds. Soon enough, we start to only dream and reach for the things we can touch at that moment.  

Getting my foot in the door by asking questions about study abroad helped me reach for the stars again. With all the help I’ve gotten so far and what I’ll have in the future, I feel like this time next year I’ll be coming back from my trip and telling you guys all about it.

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