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27 September 2021

Packing Your First-Gen Suitcase

Blog post courtesy of USAC

What You Should Know About Studying Abroad as a First-Generation Student

Choosing to study abroad as an underrepresented student may bring up concerns about what your experience will be like. As a first-generation college student, you may be experiencing a lack of resources, such as financial or interpersonal support, that other students have access to. The same is likely true for study abroad. But that’s okay! USAC is here to help you navigate the world of international education and support you as you learn more about studying abroad.

The Resident Director for USAC England, Dr. Jeremy Doughty, was a first-generation college graduate and study abroad-goer like yourself. In a recent Info Session, Jeremy shared his experiences moving away to college, choosing to study abroad and expanding his career in international education abroad after graduation. Jeremy also shared his best tips for taking the leap to study abroad as a first-gen student.

The first tip he gives you? Understand that you will have to pack your study abroad suitcase a bit differently than other students. Your metaphorical suitcase, of course.

What does this mean?

Here are Jeremy’s steps for planning your study abroad:
  1. Start learning about the programs and process early.
  2. Communicate regularly with trusted advisors.
  3. Learn more about your study abroad destination.
  4. Inform others about your study abroad experience (especially your family).
  5. Explore what type of support you’ll have
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You can start planning your adventure abroad today! Dive in to our Explore page at https://studyabroad.uark.edu/explore/index.php, and start your program search at http://studyabroad.uark.edu/search/.

21 September 2021

Traveling Abroad During COVID-19 #HogsAbroad in Cyprus

This summer I went to Cyprus to study in the pre-medical program at the University of Nicosia. I took a special topics and clinical skills anatomy course and a public health course. We also took group trips every weekend to different places on the island. I learned so much and had the most amazing time while I was there, however trying to get there, was a big of a struggle for me.

This was my first time traveling to Europe alone and I was very nervous to fly by myself. I had spent several weeks preparing and packing for my trip, and thought I had everything organized and all good to go. On the day of my flight, I had my mom take me to the airport three hours early to be safe. Once I got to the airport so many problems started happening. My mom came in with me and the line to check in at the American Airlines desk was super long, so we tried to check me in on the kiosk machines instead. Those did not work though because I was flying out of the country. We got in the line and tried to download the Veri-fly app so we could switch to a much shorter line but that would not work either. It took well over an hour for us to get to the front, but I was still doing okay on time since I had come so early to the airport. My bag ended up being exactly fifty pounds and I thought everything else was going to go smoothly. The lady at the desk started to get me checked in but then said there might be a problem. She started calling all these people and trying to look up stuff since all the guidelines and regulations were constantly changing. She stopped to tell me my COVID-19 test would not work because it had the result handwritten. She kept calling more people for about another hour before she finally got off and told me that she was pretty sure I could not go to Germany, where my connecting flight was, because I would have to stay there because of how I bought my tickets and did not know if my test would be accepted there. I had gotten a ticket through American Airlines to go to Germany, then a flight on Lufthansa, a German airline, to go from there to Cyprus. When I had got my ticket several months before I left, there were not any flights on American that would connect me from Germany to Cyprus, but since they had added one, she told me I had to be on that flight and the tickets had to be bought together. She said my only option was to buy a completely new ticket if I wanted to get there. I almost started crying because I thought I was not going to be able to go at all and there was maybe ten minutes before my flight left. Luckily since I was with my mom, she was nice enough to buy another ticket right then and worry about figuring everything out later. I ran to security and was able to cut the line, then run to my gate. I was the last person to board, but I made it on the plane.

Thankfully, the travel to get there was pretty much the only trouble I had during my trip. When I got to Germany, there were no problems with my COVID test, I only had to show my vaccine card. The American flight from there to Cyprus ended up being the same Lufthansa flight I originally had a ticket on. While I was away, my mom had to repeatedly call American Airlines for several days, but she was able to get refunded points for my original ticket. Traveling during COVID-19 was a lot different and way more difficult to navigate, but it was totally worth it. Studying abroad allowed me to experience an amazing new culture and meet so many new people. I also learned to speak a little bit of Greek! Cyprus was incredibly beautiful, and I made so many amazing memories that I will always treasure.

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Hospitality management Major Chase Webb spent the Summer 2021 term in Nicosia, Cyprus with the University of Nicosia with support from the Office of Study Abroad Scholarship.

You can start planning your adventure abroad today! Dive in to our Explore page at https://studyabroad.uark.edu/explore/index.php, and start your program search at http://studyabroad.uark.edu/search/

15 September 2021

New Arkansas Go! Passport Project to Provide Passports for Underrepresented Students

The Office of Study Abroad has won a nationally competitive grant program with the Institute of International Education, providing scholarships to cover the costs of approximately 25 passports for Pell-eligible and other qualifying U.S. freshmen. The American Passport Project is designed to remove the first barrier for study abroad — funding for a passport. The University of Arkansas is one of 40 institutions selected to receive this inaugural grant, among 200 institutions that applied for the program.

Since winning the award, Engineering's ECAP program, the Office of Nationally Competitive Awards, the Honors College and Walton College have joined the passport project to significantly extend its impact. These additional funds mean that about 150 students will receive a passport in the 2021-2022 academic year. 

The program is designed to promote equity in study abroad and support member institutions of the Institute of International Education in their efforts to encourage students to go abroad who would otherwise not participate in an international experience as part of their college education. 

Students interested in the passport program or international travel programs can meet with a Study Abroad advisor at a drop-in information session from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 15, in the Multicultural Center, located in the Arkansas Union 403.

BOLSTERING DEI STRATEGIES

Sarah Malloy, director of study abroad and international exchange at the U of A, said the Arkansas Global Opportunity, or Arkansas Go!, Passport Project bolsters the office's five-year strategic diversity, equity and inclusion plan to cultivate, strengthen and sustain a culture of inclusivity, diversity, equity, justice and citizen diplomacy amongst our office staff, faculty leaders, and most importantly the students we serve.

"Our campuswide partnerships and IIE's support means we are immediately able to meet one short-term goal of our plan — to establish the university's first passport scholarship program to increase access," Malloy said. "The passport project features holistic student support, mentorship, and requires campuswide partnerships — from initial selection to receiving a passport, to connecting students to existing financial resources, to affordable programs, and peer support upon return."

For students with limited means, studying abroad can seem unachievable because it can require long-term planning and it can involve financial hurdles, like the cost of a passport, which could keep a student from moving forward, said Katie Sabo, senior study abroad coordinator who is co-principal investigator for the IIE grant. 

CLOSING GAP BETWEEN INTEREST AND REALITY

According to data from the Spring 2016 National Survey of Student Engagement, 54% of U of A freshmen students surveyed indicated that they were interested in, or planned to participate in, study abroad. Yet only 17.9% of that graduating class completed a study abroad experience. 

"There is clearly a gap between interest and reality at the U of A for nearly 36% of our undergraduates," Malloy said. 

Malloy said that receiving this grant reduces the first barrier to study abroad, having a passport, yet by strategically pairing access to a passport with a broad support network and holistic peer and professional support throughout the process, the university can further reduce barriers — lowering the nearly 36% disparity between student interest and going abroad. 

In their long-term planning, the Office of Study Abroad has identified underrepresented groups who need additional programs and support to increase participation in Study Abroad experiences. This includes BIPOC students, LGBTQ+ students, students with disabilities, students with demonstrated financial need, gender diverse students, first-generation students, students who have never traveled abroad, and non-traditional age students. 

"It has long been part of IIE's mission to increase participation and diversity in study abroad and to extend the benefits of international experiences for all students, regardless of socioeconomic status," Lindsay Gee Calvert, IIENetwork Lead, said on the organization's website.

Of the institutions selected by IIE, a majority were identified as minority-serving colleges or universities that are expanding their diversity, equity, access, and inclusion efforts by targeting these top 4 student populations: students with demonstrated financial need, racial/ethnic minorities, students who have never traveled abroad, and first-generation students.

10 September 2021

Study Abroad Fair to Help Students Identify International Opportunities

The Office of Study Abroad and International Exchange is hosting its annual Study Abroad Fair from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 14. Students can register today to gain access to the fair.

The event will be hosted virtually, so students can conveniently learn about study abroad from the comfort of home. Fair attendees may explore the Study Abroad Info Session Library, then jump into sessions hosted by U of A faculty, the U of A Rome Center, Study Abroad Advisors and U of A program partners across the globe.

"With hundreds of programs to choose from, there really is a program for every student," said Sarah Malloy, director of Study Abroad and International Exchange.

U of A Study Abroad Programs take students to Italy, Spain, Tanzania, Belize, Thailand and many more exciting locations. Study abroad provides access to international internships, service learning and research, and allows U of A students the opportunity take a variety of courses that may help them meet degree requirements. From international business to public health, agriculture, art history, languages, sport sciences, criminology, psychology, architecture and so much more. Students who earn academic credit while abroad have access to scholarships and program discounts that help reduce the cost of participation.

09 September 2021

Gilman Scholarship Applications Open for January, Spring, Summer, Fall & Year 2022 Programs!

Applications are OPEN for the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program!

The Gilman Scholarship Program broadens the student population that studies and interns abroad by supporting undergraduates who might not otherwise participate due to financial constraints. The program aims to encourage students to study and intern in a diverse array of countries or areas and world regions. The program also encourages students to study languages, especially critical need languages (those deemed important to national security). Veterans of military service are encouraged to apply, and preference is given to veterans when other factors are equivalent. By supporting undergraduate students who have high financial need, the program has been successful in supporting students who have been historically underrepresented in education abroad, including but not limited to first-generation college students, ethnic minority students, students with disabilities, students attending HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) or other minority-serving institutions, students attending community colleges, and students coming from U.S. states with less study abroad participation.

Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program Eligibility Requirements
Students applying for any academic term (Academic Year, Fall, Spring, Summer, or January/May/August Intersessions) must be:
  • a United States citizen
  • enrolled as an undergraduate student in good standing at a two or four-year U.S. Institution
  • receive a Federal Pell Grant at the time of application or during the term of study or internship abroad program
  • in the process of applying to, or accepted to, a credit-bearing study or internship abroad program, or a virtual international program. Virtual programs and internships will be eligible until Summer 2022.
  • Applying for credit-bearing study abroad programs in a country or area with an overall Travel Advisor Level 1 or 2, according to the U.S. Department of State’s Travel Advisory System
Gilman Application Deadline: October 5th @ 11:59pm PT, for programs that start between December 1, 2021 and October 31, 2022. This includes Study Abroad program terms: January Intersession 2022, Spring 2022, May Intersession 2022, Summer 2022, August Intersession 2022, Fall 2022, and Academic Year 2022-2023.

With the October 5th deadline a little over 3 weeks away, now is the perfect time to start a Gilman or Gilman-McCain application for a January or Spring 2022, Summer 2022, Fall or Year 2022 program, and the Office of Study Abroad is here to help!

How to continue to receive study abroad & scholarship support before the application deadline:
Don’t forget to poke around the Study Abroad website! The Explore page is particularly helpful, there is a search feature, and more scholarship opportunities!

We look forward to helping you go abroad!

12 August 2021

5 Tips For Managing Your Academics During Study Abroad

Blog post courtesy of USAC

When you think “study abroad,” what comes to mind? Traveling to exciting destinations? Indulging in local cuisine? Making friends with local and international students? Those are all critical parts of a well-rounded study abroad experience, but did you think about academics? That’s right — school.

Here at USAC, we pride ourselves on providing academically rigorous study abroad programs that are designed to help students advance in their academic and professional careers. Yes, the weekend travel is fun, but it’s called study abroad for a reason, so your studies should still be at the top of your priorities. Not sure how you can balance your coursework with everything else? Fortunately, we know what it takes to be a successful study abroad student. Keep reading for our best tips.
A professor takes his students outside for a lesson in environmental geology.
Photo was taken before COVID-19.
Form A Relationship With Your Professors

One of the best ways to set yourself up for academic success is to get to know your professors on a deeper level. Make a point in your first few weeks of class to stop by office hours or stay after class to chat with each of your professors one-on-one. Not only will this show them that you’re a dedicated student, but they’ll be able to understand your goals as a student and what you need to succeed.

You’ll also grow more comfortable with them, making it easier to reach out for help if you ever need it. Additionally, forming a bond with your professors can help make the class more engaging for you, as you’re more likely to listen to and absorb the lessons of somebody you actually know.
Students gather around a computer during a co-working session.
Photo was taken before COVID-19.
Use A Planner To Track Assignments

The first thing you probably did when you enrolled in your program was map out all of the places you want to visit, right? Well, it’s important to make sure you manage your time wisely so that your schoolwork fits into that bucket list. Use a planner (digital or pen to paper — whichever you prefer) to keep track of all your assignments for the semester. Write down every class period, test, project, and homework assignment, and even block out designated study times for each class throughout the week to make sure you have time to get it all done.

Also, plan your travel wisely. Be sure to give yourself plenty of time (at least 24-hours) between that train ride and your first class on Monday. Trust us, there’s nothing worse than scrambling to write your paper in an airport on your layover the same morning it’s due.
Students study at a local cafe. Photo was taken before COVID-19.
Know Your Preferred Study Methods

One very important aspect of being a successful student is understanding how you best learn and what study methods work best for you. Do you work best memorizing from flashcards? Or is listening to a recording of your lecture easier for you to process? This might require some trial and error, but find what works best for you and stick to it. It helps if you can find students in your class who like to study the same way you do. Ask around and form study groups with this in mind.
Photo was taken before COVID-19.
Create A Productive Study Environment

Where you study is just as important as how you study, so take some time to create an environment free of distractions to study. Depending on your housing abroad, you might have to get a bit creative, but creating a solid study space is worth it. Just like at home, you want your space to be free from distractions (sorry, roommates) and somewhere you can stay put for a couple of hours (hello, free Wi-Fi!). Consider practicality, as well. As magical as it sounds to write your papers in a beachside cafe overlooking the water, it might be a more distracting location than productive.
Students explore natural wildlife during a lesson in Costa Rica.
Photo was taken before COVID-19.
Enhance Your Education Outside Of The Classroom

One of the best ways to supplement your classroom education is by applying what you’ve learned in the real world. You’ll be more likely to retain the information if you use it outside the classroom, and the experiences will be unforgettable. USAC offers quite a few ways to apply your lessons outside the classroom:
  • Practice your language through language buddies and out in the community.
  • Participate in an internship (in-person or virtually) in your field of choice.
  • See your lessons come to life on field trips, optional tours, and field studies.
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You can start planning your adventure abroad today! Dive in to our Explore page at https://studyabroad.uark.edu/explore/index.php, and start your program search at http://studyabroad.uark.edu/search/.