VCU RAMS Guide: How to Study Abroad

RICHMOND, VIRGINIA

For many students, beginning a college experience is a new and exciting one. The moment of leaving your family home and embarking on the free and independent lifestyle of a college student is a rewarding and priceless one – one that sets up the skills you will need for life during and after college. But the greatest thing in college, is learning how to step outside the realm of your opportunities, and to find even more.

In This Article You Will Learn

  • Why Should You Study Abroad?
  • How to Kickstart Your Study Abroad Experience
  • Who Can Help You Go Abroad?
  • How I Landed an Internship in Moscow
  • Where Can You Learn More?

Why Should You Study Abroad?

Experience Foreign Cultures and Language

It is one thing to watch Che Guevara’s Motor Cycle Diaries or read about Steve Jobs’ college journey to India, and to become inspired. It is another to take a journey of your own into the unknown and to throw yourself into a new environment with day-to-day interactions and challenges of a new locale. It will change your life.

Learning to live each day and get by in a new culture and provide the opportunity to expand your second language skills or gain a new understanding of foreign cultures as you live and learn alongside them. For some, studying abroad will allow them to explore their own heritage, and to become closer with their native culture and ancestry. And for others, it may just be an exhilarating dose of cultural immersion that will leave stories to tell for years on.

Journey into the New

Photo Credit: VCU Global Education Abroad

By studying abroad, you can pursue activities you may not necessarily partake in on your own. Scuba Diving in Thailand, salsa dancing in Kiev, or perhaps taking speed dating in a foreign language. The situations are unpredictably fun, and allow for many paths that otherwise wouldn’t be possible in Richmond, VA. That is not to say Richmond doesn’t carry it’s own unique tendancy be unpredictable.

Studying abroad can be an experience of a lifetime, that may teach you to be financially free, or even better; to allow you the ability to establish an international professional and social network that can sustain itself even after college.

What Do You Need For Your Abroad?

Typically, your study abroad program will be linked to either a VCU sponsored study abroad program, or a non-sponsored program. Non-sponsored programs are study abroad programs offered by separate universities, but as a VCU student you may still enroll in their programs like a regular student, earning your credit hours abroad and receiving your transcript.

In any application process, you can expect the following requirements:

  • Passport with 3-4 passport photos
  • Visa Application + Visa Fee (May be covered in program cost)
  • Study Abroad Program Materials (Pre-Orientation, Departure Materials)
  • Medical Documentation (Physical Evaluations, Vaccinations, tests)

How to Kickstart Your Study Abroad Experience

The VCU SOVO Fair

Each year, VCU holds a fall and spring SOVO fair that champions it’s amazing university clubs, student organizations, academic and athetlic programs. These are the recruiting grounds for student organizations – and a prime moment in your semester you cannot afford to miss.

The momentum present on the VCU Campus during fall rush and student orientation will carry into the coming months with many activities that will all uniquely and (more or less) recruit students to new campus, city, nation wide, and international opportunities. Welcome to the SOVO fair, a hot bed of student activities, interest groups, and social networking.

The VCU Sovo Fair is held each fall in the Siegel Center. Studnets will table their organizations and student clubs to each passerby, offering useful flyers, sign up sheets, and other materials in a bid to get you interested in their causes. This is the perfect opportuntiy to taste test all of the student based opportunities whether they are Spring Break volunteer abroads, VCU sponsored Study Abroad programs in Europe, the Middle East, or Latin America, and even some intern abroad opportunities.

VCU Campus Learning Centers & Career Workshops

Don’t fail to take advantage of the amazing programs, classes, or affiliated organizations that your professors and faculty may be able to provide some advice on. Some of my Russian teachers at VCU (mind you, there were quite few) were able to provide some insight and personal knowledge that propelled me to making a more refined and focused approach to my expections and plans for my abroad.

Career workshops and job seminars will all contribute to your personal career development through your college years, paving new roads of opportuntiies and skillsets that up until now you may not have had. College is your gateway to learning more about yourself and where you can go. Campus support and organizations will take you twice as far. This is your time to take every opportunity and seize them.

Who Can Help You Go Abroad?

VCU GLOBAL EDUCATION OFFICE

Located just beyond Brandt & Rhoads, along Franklin St. Gym, is the VCU Global Education Office. They provide free consultations each week, and will assist you in finding programs through VCU or other universities that may be able to get you into the country of your choice. They have a highly active social media presence, and I personally can vouch for the usefulness of them.

But take everything by your own initiative – your application process for going abroad – and those deadlines – must be followed on and executed properly by none other than you. While it may seem daunting at first, getting the proper medical tests, visa hurdles, and etc. It can be done, and the VCU Global Edu Office can help.

A Special Note on Resumes, Cover Letters and Your Abroad

If you’re crafting a resume, cover letter, or both in an attempt to land your study, internship, or scholarship abroad – then the VCU Global Edu office and the VCU Campus Career center are the people you need to talk to. They will provide the help and advice that is crucial to the entire process and ultimately may define your college – and post college experiences. They helped me land two internships across the Russian Federation prior to my graduation.

Get Started Now – VCU Education Abroad Office

  • General Info Sessions are Mondays and Thursdays at 12:30 (Room 122 of the Franklin St. Gym)
  • You can sign up to their listserv, follow them on Twitter, Pinterest, or like them on Facebook.
  • The GEO offers various program options offered by VCU Education Abroad and will assist in Non-VCU study abroad programs (for countries like Russia).

Where Can You Get Funding for Your Study Abroad?

Studying abroad is not cheap, but do not be discouraged. There are many opportunities to go abroad with financial aid or even a full-ride. Many international organizations, governmental, non-governmental, or corporate may provide financial aid.

I met an American engineer working to get his associates while also studying abroad in Moscow at the age of 27 – he recieved $1,000 corporate grant from Coca Cola. Various scholarships like the Boren Fellowship or the Gilman Scholarship are highly competitive, but can offer immense support for those who seek it.

Grants may be provided to those who study abroad by programs within or outside of the actual study abroad organization. The leading Russian based study program offered numerous opportunities for students studying the Russian language upwards of $1,000+. Do not give up, and do not be discouraged.

Many governments across the world today are offering financial support to foreigners who seek to study language, cultural, and policy within their borders. Be ambitious, think big. Go for it.

How I Landed an Internship in Moscow

Which led to work opportunities, travel, and a host of unique experiences.

Your study abroad journey begins with the very basic research skills you can muster. A simple google search of “country + study abroad” or “country + internship” may yield results that could lead you to a host of several options. These options could be your first steps towards finding the leading organization that offer study and internship programs in the field of your interest, or your region.

And of course, a consultation with VCU Education Abroad staff can help point you in more directions, with greater advice or input.

With that in mind, it is no secret that months and months of researching the internet for study, internship, work, and teaching abroad opportunities in Russia and the Former Soviet Union led me to compiling over 30 pages of various options for Russia.

My research led me to a leading organization that provides amazing study, internship, work, and travel opportunities. This organization provides scholarships, grants, and hosts a large amount of alumni. I am proud to have studied for 8 months with The School of Russian and Asian Studies. I highly recommend it, if that is your interest.

What are you waiting for?

Get started now. Go Abroad.

Where Can You Learn More About Going Abroad?

Subscribe, or Contact Trevor at trevorabroad@gmail.com.

Trevor

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