Hola,

As many of you know, I am a Bottom Line student. This means that I come from a low income household, I am the first in my family or from the first generation of my family to attend college, and I earned at least a 2.5 GPA in high school. Like the majority of Bottom Line students, I am considered a minority* student. Why am I mentioning this? Because many minority students tend to hold back from the study abroad experience. There is plenty of research proving this to be true. Trust me: if studying abroad is really what you want to do, then you can make it happen regardless of the obstacles that we face as minority students!

A year ago, my Bottom Line counselor told me that her brother did some research on minority college students going abroad. The research showed that not many of us actually went through with it. As soon as the meeting with my counselor was over, I quickly headed back to my dorm room and started researching. The research I found showed that only a limited number of African-American and Hispanic/Latino students actually studied in a foreign country (here’s results from one study). I was very skeptical of the research that had been compiled throughout the years; when I was applying to study abroad, many other Holy Cross minority students were applying to the program too. A couple of months later, almost all of my fellow classmates were accepted into the various programs. However, as I sit here in my house in Spain, the majority of the minority Holy Cross students who dreamed of going abroad are still at home.

You may wonder, “Well, maybe they just couldn’t afford to go abroad.” Then how was I able to come abroad even though I come from a low-income family? You may then think, “Maybe their major did not allow them.” I am a double major and completing a concentration and I did it! Yes, some majors or tracks make it much more difficult to go abroad (i.e. Premed, Chemistry, Biology, Economics, Political Science), but 3 premed students, 2 chemistry majors, 1 political science major, and 1 economics major are currently studying in Spain with me. Do you see what I mean? Studying abroad is very possible! Of course, difficult family or financial circumstances may arise last minute that can hinder our chances of going abroad. However, although us minority students face our own unique set of challenges, I am living proof that studying abroad is possible.

College of the Holy Cross students currently studying in Spain.

If YOU are interested in going abroad and have no serious reasons not to then YOU totally should! Seek out information and resources at your college’s Study Abroad Office or ALANA Cultural Center. Talk to your academic advisor about how you can meet your major requirements while studying abroad. Look for funding that can help you pay for the study abroad experience (the Gilman Scholarship Program is a popular one). Find someone who can help you pick a suitable program and navigate the study abroad process. We all need to come together and start changing the statistics, one minority student at a time. 🙂

Hasta luego,

Kristie

 

*By “minority” I mean African-American, Hispanic/Latino, Asian, Middle Eastern, Pacific Islander, etc.

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Greetings from España!

It has been a very long time since my last blog post and a lot has happened between the final days of school until now. I was able to successfully finish off the school year and enjoy my summer vacation by going to the Dominican Republic and working at Bottom Line with the high school class of 2012. Working with all of the students was very rewarding and it was difficult knowing that I would not be working with them for the rest of the year, but I had to leave the comfort of my family and Bottom Line in order to make the very bold decision to study abroad!

Ever since I was in high school I knew I was interested in going abroad, but never thought I was adventurous enough to actually do it. With the help of some of the Bottom Line counselors, I decided to apply to the program at my school. I am glad to say that I stuck with it and I am now currently in Pamplona, Spain, doing a 3-week orientation program. I will be spending the next year (yes, year!) in Spain with the study abroad program at my school. After the orientation is over, I will be headed with 8 other Holy Cross students to the amazing island of Mallorca, where I will be living with a host family and taking classes towards my majors at the local university. Although it is very terrifying and still feels like a dream, I am looking forward to the year ahead of me. I’ve spoken to many students who have gone through the study abroad experience and they all have nothing but great things to say, so I know I too will enjoy everything that a new country has to offer.

I know a lot of students will probably question whether or not they would also like to go abroad. My best advice is to just talk to people. Talk to your Bottom Line counselor or advisor (I would not be here if it was not for my old counselor, Marilyn), talk to students who have gone abroad, and make sure to talk to the Study Abroad Department at your school! Studying abroad is not for everyone, but if you think it is for you, I would just take the chance and apply. You can always decide not to go even after you have been accepted into the program! A lot of schools also offer Summer Abroad or Semester Abroad programs, which are perfect for students who want to go abroad, but do not want to go for very long or cannot go for a year because their major does not allow them.

Let me know what you think about studying abroad!

Kristie

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