How To Study Abroad at No Cost

By Tima Dasouki, CAS’22

Did you know that you can study abroad in any country at no cost to you? Many students find the idea of study abroad to be financially overwhelming: transportation, food, housing and accommodations in a completely different country sound intimidating. What you may not be aware of is that the government provides fully and partially funded scholarships for students to study, research or work abroad. Below is a list of government funded scholarships for undergraduate study abroad and my experience participating in several of them.

Boren Scholarship/Fellowship

The Boren scholarship is a government funded award for U.S. undergraduate students to study abroad in world regions critical to U.S. interests. The Boren scholarship provides funding based off the duration of time spent abroad. Up to $25,000 is provided for 25-52 weeks (preferred), up to $12,500 is provided for 12-24 weeks and up to $8,000 for 8-11 weeks (STEM majors only). Applicants can design their own programs, deciding the duration of their time abroad, ways they intend to immersive themselves linguistically and culturally and their field of study.

Boren also offers Regional Flagship Language Initiatives which are carefully-selected, credit-bearing language courses during the summer (domestic) and fall (overseas), with the option to continue overseas study into the spring. These programs are pre-designed by Boren to include pre-selected cultural and linguistic language immersion for study abroad. In 2021, the Regional Flagship Language Initiatives include:

The African Flagship Languages Initiative (AFLI) for the study of French, Swahili, Akan/Twi, Wolof, or Zulu

The Indonesian Flagship Language Initiative (IFLI) for the study of Indonesian

The South Asian Flagship Languages Initiative (SAFLI) for the study of Hindi or Urdu

The Turkish Flagship Language Initiative (TURFLI) for the study of Turkish

I was accepted as a Boren scholar for the Turkish Flagship Language Initiative to study Turkish in Azerbaijan. The program I did consisted of a summer domestic portion with the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a fall abroad portion where I would study Turkish in Azerbaijan at the Azerbaijan University of Languages. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, the program became fully virtual but my language skills still became exceptional post program. Despite its virtual nature, we had cultural events, language partner sessions, language table sessions and lectures that significantly contributed to our language and cultural immersion.

Critical Language Scholarship

The Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program is a summer study abroad opportunity for American college and university students to learn languages essential to America’s engagement with the world. The CLS program is different than the Boren scholarship because it is only a summer program while Boren offers fall and spring study options. CLS offers scholarships for the study of Arabic, Azerbaijani, Bangla, Chinese, Hindi, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Persian, Portuguese Punjabi, Russian, Swahili, Turkish and Urdu and is more flexible to students with diverse career goals.

I completed the CLS Turkish program in fall 2021 with the Tömer language program at Ankara University. Typically, the CLS program is offered for the duration of the summer but due to the pandemic, it became virtual and was offered to some students during the summer and others during the fall based off capacity. This two-month virtual institute helped push my Turkish language skills from novice level to advanced mid. The combination of everyday class, homework, language partners, 1on1 professor meetings and cultural events all help immerse you culturally and linguistically to help improve your language skills.

Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship

The U.S. Department of State’s Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program allows students of limited financial means to study or intern abroad, providing them with skills critical to U.S. national security and economic prosperity. The award provides up to $5,000 to be used towards program tuition, room and board, books, local transportation, insurance, international airfare, passport and visa fees.  The program especially encourages students to study languages that are critical to U.S. national security. The program has been successful in supporting first-generation college students, students in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields, ethnic minority students, students with disabilities, students attending HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) or other minority-serving institutions, students attending community colleges, and students coming from U.S. states with less study abroad participation in their study abroad pursuits.

Due to the pandemic, the Gilman scholarship is offering funding for virtual study abroad opportunities like internships or intensive language courses. As a Turkish learner, I received the Gilman award to study Turkish intensively with the Ankara University’s Tömer Language Institute. This scholarship allowed me to be consistent with my language gains after the CLS and Boren programs by studying Turkish virtually with Ankara University.

Fulbright Scholarship

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program provides grants for individually designed study/research projects or for English Teaching Assistant Programs in over 140 countries. During their grants, Fulbright recipients can meet, work, live with and learn from the people of the host country, sharing daily experiences.  The program facilitates cultural exchange through direct interaction on an individual basis in the classroom, field, home, and in routine tasks, allowing the Fulbright awardee to gain an appreciation of others’ viewpoints and beliefs, the way they do things, and the way they think.

Applicants for the program include: graduating seniors and recent bachelor’s-degree recipients, masters and doctoral candidates and young professionals, including writers, creative and performing artists, journalists, and those in law, business, and other professional fields

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