Studying Abroad Isn't Just For Rich Kids On TV

Studying Abroad Isn't Just For Rich Kids On TV

Studying abroad is a life-changing experience that you deserve, too.

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So, your semester is in full swing and you're just doing your thing. Sitting through classes, doing your homework, maybe meeting for the occasional library study group. You're heading out with your squad to the dining hall for dinner, and you keep passing these banners and posters with blown up, beautiful landscapes, and each one of them is urging you to take a semester abroad.

And you're like, "no way, not me. I can't do that."

Believe me, I get it. That was me, too. But let's talk about how we can turn that "can't" into a resounding "can," because studying abroad is a life-changing experience that you deserve, too.

I remember having the same reaction to those posters; awesome photos of students in front of the Eiffel Tower, or posing with locals in South Korea. I remember thinking, "God, that sounds so cool. But I can't." My concerns and hesitations overwhelmed me for a long time, and I didn't look into the opportunities that were available to me until my junior year. Once I finally addressed my reservations and started looking for answers and ways to make an opportunity abroad happen for me, I had so many doors opened to me, and I wound up spending my Summer taking language, culture, and even film classes in Osaka, Japan. It was a profoundly meaningful experience, and, not to sound cliche, but it absolutely was life-changing. I now work as a coordinator and advisor to help other students at my university get abroad, and I hope some of my advice reaches you, too.

My concerns about studying abroad boiled down to three big concerns: time, difficulty, and, of course, money.

The things I had heard about studying abroad were from people who did long-term exchanges; they took off for a semester or a year and studied in a foreign university. That was all fine and good, but I enjoyed taking my upper-level classes with faculty that I had grown personal relationships with. On top of that, I had a job here at home, and I didn't want to give that up! The thing about studying abroad is that there is absolutely an opportunity that will fit your schedule. My trip was for one month over the Summer, so it didn't interfere with my normal academic year. My best friend did as an awesome hands-on opportunity for biology in Belize - and she was only gone for ten days. Maybe you don't want to leave home behind for a year, and that's okay - you don't have to!

Aside from time and schedule concerns, I was admittedly terrified to study abroad. I had hardly left my home state before, let alone the country. I had never even been on an airplane before. The thought of going somewhere completely different from home filled me with a whole new kind of anxiety that I did not know how to resolve. The thing about studying abroad is that you have access to people and resources that you won't have when you graduate, so it's a great way to have your first travel experience! For one, all that big planning is in somebody else's hands; your program director will help arrange your lodging, airfare, and all of that for you. Typically, you even have an orientation before you depart to let you know everything you need to know about your destination, including what to pack, how the weather will be, and how to exchange currency if you need to. With my short Summer program, I traveled with a group of about a dozen other students most of the time, so I never felt totally lost or overwhelmed. Studying abroad gives you access to all kinds of help and advice that can alleviate so much first-time travel anxiety. If you have questions or concerns about the country you want to travel to, there are websites with everything from crime rates to currency that you can check out. There are also valuable websites for individuals that identify with any kind of minority - identities based on race, gender, your sexual orientation, and more - to help you navigate how to hold on to that opportunity in a country that might be different from home.

Finally, I just knew I couldn't afford to go abroad. I would see those flyers for upcoming programs and think, "yeah, okay. I have student loans and a Pell grant. I can't afford that."

The thing is, in most cases, your financial aid can help you go abroad. Typically, you will pay tuition to your home university, even though you're taking classes in Italy or Morocco or wherever your heart desires. If you get financial aid to help with that tuition, you'll still get it. There's also a ton of scholarships available to you; your university may even have its own funds to help students go abroad. My university even offers a grant specifically for students who have never traveled before! When I was preparing to go abroad, between my financial aid, a decently successful crowdfunding campaign, and a scholarship, I only paid about a fifth of my program cost out of pocket.

You can absolutely find a study abroad opportunity that you are passionate about, and there are ways to make it happen for you! Reach out to your university's education abroad office! Ask your favorite professors if they know of any upcoming trips for your major so you can get course credit!

It is so worth it, and I hope you chase your dreams, wherever they take you!

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Why I Love The Film '8 Women'

A movie review

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The film is set in the 1950s in a large country residence. As the family comprised of mostly women prepares for Christmas, the 'master' of the house is discovered dead in his bed, with a dagger stuck in his back. The murderer must be one of the eight women in the house at the time, and in the course of the investigations, each has a tale to tell and so many secrets to hide.

The scene opens with Suzon returning from school for Christmas break, finding her mother Gaby, her younger sister Catherine, and her wheelchair-bound grandmother Mamy in the living room, where most of the action of the film takes place. Gaby eventually tells Catherine to go wake up her father Marcel, which is when she finds that her father's been stabbed to death. Attempting to call the authorities, they find that the phone is disconnected, and soon come to the realization that the murderer is either of them As the women begin to question and prod at each other, many secrets come to light: that Louise slept with Marcel, that Chanel loves Pierrette, that Suzon is pregnant, that Suzon is not Marcel's daughter, which is just as well since she is pregnant with his child, that Gaby was about to leave with Marcel's business associate and that Mamy had poisoned her husband a long time ago. The plot concludes with Catherine revealing that Marcel is not dead and that she had plotted everything in order to show her father the truth about "his women". As she opens the door to his bedroom, he shoots himself in the head.

For a movie boasting of an all-female cast, the movie is an astonishingly anti-feminist film. Starting with the fact that all 8 female characters are built around a man, Marcel. Throughout the film, we are given the impression that one of them killed Marcel, only later to discover that he was never dead. All these women are both appealing and appalling, it is clear that they are each willing to do whatever it takes for money, love, revenge, and this is in fact what really kills Marcel. The movie is filled with songs with themes of disappointed love, loneliness, and yearning. To me, these songs seem to be each of the women's victimizing, self-justification for their appalling actions. What I find most concerning is Mamy's crime (she poisoned and killed her husband) and Suzon's confession (she is pregnant with her 'father's' child). The movie, instead of presenting these very private secrets as serious and appalling claims, turns the death of Marcel into a joke. The whole movie, to me, seems as though it is a criticization of females and their relationships with males, and yet somehow, it seems absurd for me to criticize it for this appalling view as it is supposed to be a satirical comedy.

While I do appreciate this very obvious comedy, I cannot help but find that the movie happened to be a humorous crossover between sexual decadence and violence. Though this film is veiled within the guise of being feminist, it somehow manages to completely demonize each of the female characters. What stands out to me the most is the way in which each female character is so under-represented and villainized. Don't get me wrong though, this movie is worth a watch, the depth of the dialogues, the vibrancy of the characters, the songs, all come together to paint a wonderful yet slightly peculiar picture of French culture.

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Guess What, Everything That Makes You Tired Is Worth It

Life gets to be too much sometimes.

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Every day I hear someone complaining about something bad going on in their lives. I do the same, but not every day. I tend to keep most of my stress and things that bother me to myself. But I do get tired of the situations I place myself in or just life in general.

School, work and my sorority are the main things that make me tired. I am constantly on the go every day. Yes, I do get a break but not for long. I stress about money. I get tired of being busy all the time. I chose to be apart of that busy life. So I have to deal with it. I get in some mental break downs sometimes, but I always build myself back up, by saying "It is worth being tried for." I think about the great outcomes that come with being busy. When you are busy, you are successful. Those problems that hurt you or make you down, well if you are busy, then you will not think so much about them. Make yourself busy to were you can handle it. But, yes I am tired, but it is worth it.

Those situations I put myself in that make me tired of making dumb mistakes, well I enjoy them. It is f'd up that I enjoy hurting myself and sometimes others, but I just do not care sometimes. That is bad. I am tired of feeling regret from satisfaction, but I love it. It is crazy how being young you cannot control yourself until you grow up. That is what I am doing; I am growing up. So yes, I will make mistakes, but I will learn from them. I will be tired of my stupid mistakes, but I will fix them.

You're going to be tired in life. It is okay. Just remember the money you are making, the school work you are doing, and the involvement is worth being tired over. Those dumb decisions that you are slowly or already tired of finding a way to fix it.

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