2 Programs That Help You Get Abroad

 Image Credit: Pixabay

Image Credit: Pixabay

When the reality of having to start chipping away at student loans sets in after graduation, it may seem like your travel dreams have to be put on the backburner.  However, the truth is that there really is no better time than now to take advantage of the under-known and time sensitive student visas, particularly for those of us in the 18-30 age group.  I was surprised to find that for many destinations, there are specific opportunities that have been set up with the exact purpose of serving the money-pinched student.

BUNAC allows recent college grads who are U.S. citizens to participate in their Work Canada program, giving you 12-month work authorization.  Although the program costs about $400, you can be spared the travel expenses of things like airfare, something that is often one of the biggest roadblocks in a traveler’s budget.  BUNAC also runs an Intern in Britain program and assists students with visas so that interns can be paid during the internship.  Another popular hotspot is Ireland, and you can travel there, too, through their J1 program where you’ll be able to work for a few months in Ireland during your summers off from college.  This is perfect for students who truly want to make the most of their free time from their busy college lives during those precious summer months.  For those that have recently graduated (in the past 12 months), or are enrolled in post-secondary education, a 12-month work holiday visa to Ireland is available.

For those adventure-seekers looking for a more exotic locale, college students or recent grads can jet off to Singapore with a six-month work holiday pass, and even as far away as New Zealand or Australia.

Of course, these options were discovered by scouring the Internet and tailoring searches to accommodate young adults like us, who often need to combine working and internships with travel to make the experience affordable and rewarding.  However, it’s equally important to first and foremost start the process by utilizing all the resources of your university, since they probably already have many opportunities for study abroad semesters and specific scholarships and advisors to help you plan along the way.

I stumbled upon an amazing opportunity when I recently scheduled an appointment with a student advising counselor at my university.  After deciding to forego taking a language course my first year at school. I wanted to take Polish since it is a part of my family heritage.  I was so excited when my advisor referred me to a website where I learned about the FLAS fellowship, funded by the U.S. Department of Education.  

It’s the perfect funding opportunity for students taking classes in a variety of less commonly taught foreign languages; in my case, I would fall under the study of Slavic languages and Central European studies.  The fellowship also covers languages and studies of Africa and Asia, and the targeted demographic of the fellowship makes it worthwhile to apply if you happen to fit within it.  The fact that you would already be among a smaller pool of applicants means you have a greater chance of actually getting their academic year or summer awards.  For example, for the 2014-15 academic year, the FLAS stipend for graduate students is $15,000 and $5,000 for undergrads.  The award can be used during your university school year, or even to fund dissertation research abroad.

The array of choices for student travel funding is about as numerous and diverse as the places you can go.  Make sure to use this critical period of time to explore options online and through your university.  Traveling abroad is an invaluable experience that will open your mind to new worlds and enable you to ponder future plans from a more global perspective.