Tag Archives: i regret studying abroad

Student Loan application Form with pen, calculator and writing h

5 Ways Loans Can Make or Break Your Study Abroad

(Photo by www.leidenandleiden.com)

I’ve been in Dallas for a little over 2 years now and have decided to make this awesome Texan town my permanent home. House shopping comes with so many decisions and giving away of all your personal information for various credit checks. I was pretty pampered during my college years in that my parents gave me an older car and helped out with paying for college so that I had minimal student loans. These were huge financial reliefs to a 22 year old student but it also didn’t give me the opportunity to build much credit. Here’s something that I’ve really learned after college- credit is EVERYTHING. It determines how much your credit card limit will be; what kind of apartment you can rent without a co-signer; what type of car you can buy; and how big a loan you can get for a home.

Set of color credit cards(photo by www.consumeraffairs.com)

The only real thing that has built up my credit is my student loans. I have a love/hate relationship with student loans. They have come back to bite me in the derrière a few times during my college career and afterwards. During college, I didn’t know to alert my student loan companies about my study abroad – a fun fact that would’ve been really useful to know. I figured that since my student loan companies wouldn’t cover my study abroad as it wasn’t federally accredited, I was in the clear. I found out about 6 months into it that my parents were receiving student loan bills. My home university un-enrolled me as I was going through an outside study abroad program. This new un-enrolled status was given to the loan companies who wanted their money back because they thought I was no longer in college. I didn’t know it then but this confusion with my enrollment status during my junior year of college would come back to bite me years later when looking for a home. I have very good credit but it isn’t as awesome as it could be. I never understood why my credit didn’t break the 700s threshold until house shopping. A potential lender ran an in-depth credit report and advised me that there is a negative hit against my credit from 2008 due to non-payment. This was the 2nd half of my year in France and it coincided perfectly with the student loan debacle. I had no idea that the mix-up with the loans during my time abroad would impact my credit and for this long! This news inspired me to write about the 5 ways loans can make (or break) your study abroad experience.

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(photo by blog.ncarb.org)

1-     Loans can help pay for the tuition and the home stay living arrangement. That’s 10s of thousands of dollars that you don’t have to come up with sur le champ. Make

2-     If your study abroad program is not federally accredited, your US federal loan (which are a majority of loans) won’t cover your study abroad which means that you need to use a private loan (say hello to higher interest rates) or pay cash. Make and Break

3-     Your credit may be affected negatively in the future if you’re not able to use loans and forget to provide your loan companies proof of your study abroad. Break

4-     Loans don’t cover living expenses so you’ll still need to save up for your time abroad. Break

5-     Loans add an extra step in the study abroad process which when they cover your study abroad is a great help but it’s also an additional stress and element to coordinate for the preparation for this experience. Make and Break

loan4(Don’t let student loans break you! Photo by www.flickr.com)

Student loans are a very useful tool in helping to fund your study abroad experience. But they need extra consideration during the preparation stages to make sure that they are working for you and not against you. Your study abroad experience may not be as long as your entire college career but it’s enough to impact your credit and future purchases. Learn from my mistake and get your loan situation in order BEFORE you go abroad. Your future will appreciate it!

  

What Not to do in Your Paris Study Abroad: Advice by French People for Foreign Students

It’s always best to get cultural insights from natives. How often do I say that here, honestly?! But, just in case you thought I was being silly I found this great YouTube video with 2 charming, college-aged French girls who give you the tips and advice you need about French culture. The video starts out in English but quickly goes into French for the remainder of the video. There are English subtitles. I must admit that I had trouble understanding these women, especially the one on the left. They spoke fast and would interrupt each other while speaking to elaborate more on the other one’s comments so it was hard to catch what they were saying. The main girl in the video, Emy, has blue hair which I was super shocked about as the punk look with crazy colored hair and skulls aren’t very French. Emy where were you when I was in Paris?! Now that my rant is over. Enjoy this super informative video on French culture as seen through the eyes of French people.

 

  
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The Secret Your Study Abroad Program Doesn’t Want You to Know

(Don’t tell. Image by: lionarea86.deviantart.com)

There is a secret out there that your study abroad program doesn’t want you to know. They don’t want you to know because their marketing department tells them that it’s bad for business, that students won’t study abroad anymore if they knew the truth. So your study abroad program puts it under the rug and pretends it never happens, even though it does. What is this secret that study abroad programs don’t want you to know? It’s that studying abroad is not easy and some students have a really difficult (and sometimes even dangerous) time abroad.

Walk into most study abroad offices and what do you see? Posters and promotional material of students smiling and having fun near major sites without any signs of what life is like as an expat or as a student abroad. I have yet to come across a student holding a book, wearing a back pack or sitting in a classroom for study abroad promotional material. When students look at these images, what they’re seeing is studying abroad is a vacation for students. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Immersion into another culture is not easy and for some students it is extremely difficult. A friend told me recently of her niece’s bestie who is studying abroad and has had issues with safety and cultural immersion. The study abroad program is helping this student but this issue is being kept hush-hush for fear of other students finding out and possibly being deterred from going abroad. When I heard that I got so frustrated. I understand from a business perspective why you wouldn’t want to publicize this story but from an educator perspective, I’m positively baffled.

It’s true that every student is different; handles stress differently; handles new situations differently; prepares for this experience differently. But what is universal is that students depend on their study abroad office/program to provide them EVERYTHING they need to know about this experience. It is a disservice to future students when study abroad programs don’t use negative experiences as learning tools. If you have never left your hometown or state before, how can you possibly know how to be safe in a large foreign city, or how to work out a disagreement with your host family when you have cultural and linguistic barriers or know how to develop the tools to handle a bad day alone if no one ever coaches you?!

 

In Andrea’s dream world, every study abroad program/office would provide coaching/training to students before they study abroad. This would include: hands on cultural immersion training for each specific country, linguistic boot camp, coaching on how to adjust and maintain emotional stability when everything around you is different, how to make friends abroad, coaching on the university system abroad, and encourage students to read study abroad books- not travel books- but ones specifically focused on study abroad. Knowing about things first hand doesn’t take away the experience of studying abroad– it just makes it easier by providing the proper tools and knowledge to make the most of this amazing opportunity.