Let’s face it, living in a new country where you don’t know anyone or speak the language is scary in general! But added on top of the intimidating application process and the physical (don’t forget mental) preparation can easily overwhelm students, causing them to miss out on an opportunity of a life time. That is the inspiration for this post; I’m going to break down every part of the “preparation” stage that the school doesn’t straight out tell you and that I wish I knew!
***FYI, I am studying in Madrid, Spain for a whole semester and living in an apartment. So if you’re program is different, some of the elements of the application process will be different from mine.
Application process: Not going to lie the application process is super confusing and stressful at first. Juggling schoolwork along with all the deadlines for the applications is a lot…. but worth it.
- The first step you should take is to look online at SUNY Oswego’s study abroad page; there it lists all the programs that are available (https://www.oswego.edu/international/program-search.) You should start this process at least one semester before you want to leave! Keep in mind, if there is something you’re interested in and don’t see, SUNY Oswego works with all SUNY schools and odds are another school has it. For example, I am going to Madrid, Spain, which is through SUNY Oswego, but there are people from New Paltz, Cortland and Albany on the same trip as I am. If you’re interested in another SUNY schools program, the credits transfer over to Oswego without any problems. ***One problem my friend ran into was that she was a transfer student from Cortland (2 years) to Binghamton, and wanted to study abroad with me through SUNY Oswegos’s program. Well, because Bing has a cap on how many credits a student can transfer from another school, the 15 credits that she would get from study abroad with Oswego would not count for her…. Just something to pay attention too before getting too far into the process.
- Next, when you find a program that you like you can click “apply now” and an online application would be set up for you. On this application it requires you to attach your official transcript (ordered online $10), 2 academic letters of recommendation, a study statement (see Study Supplement Example), and a language proficiency exam (only important if you are going to study a language.) Oswego has an online program that you can sign into which shows you all the forms you need… but I had no idea how that worked until I met with my study abroad advisor (Lizette Alvarado.) I suggest making an appointment with the international office ASAP when you know where or when you would like to go.
- After you have submitted the application and have been accepted, the online program attaches more paperwork onto the online application that you have to submit. For example a $250 deposit, copy of your passport, 2 passport size pics (for visa, $30 from post office), $160 Visa application, housing form, health forms, learning agreement (class selection.. see “The Fun Part!” post for more info), and a financial aid form. You have a good amount of time to get these things in order and submitted, but the sooner the better. You will see the online application program is very organized with what has been submitted or still needs to be. The study abroad office also sends out automatic emails telling you the things missing (which was a life saver for me!) I also included as many prices as I could remember only because I felt like I had no idea how many things I had to pay for right out of my pocket… and seeing as I’m living off of pasta and eggs each cost hit me hard. Each check that will be submitted to the international office has to be a certified check or money order (Culkin can do this and the Oswego post office too.) Your study abroad advisor will apply for your student visa (required for a semester study abroad), which you will receive in the mail with your passport before you leave.
***TBH I submitted all these things the week of the deadline and was fine… don’t stress too much!
Financial aid (https://www.oswego.edu/financial-aid/): Obviously this depends on everyone’s individual loans or whatnot….but what I didn’t know is that if you have the parent plus loan, you can bring the study abroad budget sheet (online) to the office and they can increase your loan. So that’s exactly what I did and they increased it to the amount that the budget sheet suggest that you bring (which is way more than you need.) This comes back to you in a refund right before you go. For me this was super helpful for rent and also to have extra spending money… you know for emergencies 😉
*** I talked to Jennie Hoffman and she is super nice and SOOOO helpful!
Scholarships: Oswego has a lot of study abroad specific scholarships. You can apply online and it attaches to your study abroad application (https://www.oswego.edu/international/scholarships). I applied for 5 and was awarded 0 (lol just my luck.) But I recently found out that I was awarded the GETGO scholarship, which gave me $1,500!! That money is taken right off the bill for the semester, so when I get my refund back I have an extra $1,500 for necessity like shopping 😉 The GETGO scholarship paperwork is in the language department and it just requires you to put how long your studying for (quarter, semester, summer) along with your acceptance letter (also attached to the online application program) then a small written statement and an option to attach a letter of recommendation. Then I was emailed with an invoice for the cost of the semester abroad with that GETGO scholarship taken off of the total. Nice end of the semester surprise!
*** I used the same study statement that I applied for the program with for the scholarships… keep in mind I only received one though, so you might want to switch it up a bit!
This seems like a lot… and honestly it is, but this is the worst part! Everything after this process is a lot more fun! See my follow-up post “The Fun Part” for more information for what comes next!