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What Is Study Abroad?

What Is Study Abroad?

The Study Abroad Program is the means by which a student may take a summer, a semester or a year to go abroad to study, travel and earn credit towards a degree. Many colleges offer similar programs to students, but few can match Rhode Island College on choice, quality and cost! Our Study Abroad Office will acquaint you with the many options at Rhode Island College and will advise you on appropriate destinations and quality programs at reasonable prices.

Studying abroad is an opportunity to explore. You might take a required course to gain another perspective on your chosen discipline, or choose a course that is not offered at RIC. This might also be a chance to experience something outside your major simply because it interests you. Just because you are a business major should not prevent you from studying painting in Florence!

How about taking a total immersion course in Japan or Spain, with a little travel on the side? Better yet, what about an independent or directed study overseen by your academic advisor or major professor?

Maybe all you know is that you would like to travel but are not sure of what you want to study or where you want to go. The Study Abroad Office can help you tailor a program to meet your needs and fit your pocketbook. We will support you through your own process of self-discovery and help you negotiate the bureaucratic labyrinth that is a necessary part of the adventure.

If you have never given travel a thought or believed it was beyond your means the following information may change your mind. Getting ready is a lot of work but it can be the basis of a life-changing experience! You may develop a lifetime love of travel and discovery. We hope this information answers some of your questions.

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Why Study Abroad?

The Ocean State is a wonderful place to call home. You probably have noticed how many student visitors the cities of Newport and Providence host every year. Why do people choose to visit our state? Any place is going to have its own list of unique characteristics, but the bottom line is simply the satisfaction and sense of discovery that educational travel brings to an individual.

One reason to study abroad is to embrace the unfamiliar, to reach beyond the predictable in yourself, and to discover qualities and abilities that you never knew you had. You can learn as much about yourself as the culture in which you will be immersed.

Studying abroad can be as "foreign" or familiar as you like. By doing some preliminary research you can plan accordingly. Even in another modern, English-speaking city abroad you will make discoveries that will enhance your life, increase your body of knowledge, and enrich the scope of your world-view.

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What Do I Need To Know Before I Study Abroad?

It is important to consider what you can live with for any length of time and what is absolutely out of the question. Keeping in mind that you want to expand your horizons and try some new things, there are conditions you would certainly want or need to know about. This is the fun part. Remember we mentioned "research"? Well, this is part of it and your preparation should be taken seriously.

Be aware that putting together a study abroad program is a process. It takes time to come together, but come together it does. Of course, you will spend time learning about the country, culture and learning environment you will be going into, but this will not take all day, every day! Your preparation need not be overwhelming and should be a lot of fun.

Talking to people who have been abroad and reading good travel guides are your best bet for getting the nitty-gritty on where you want to go. Faculty, staff and students at Rhode Island College love to talk about where they have been and will be delighted to share their insights with you. What thrilled those folks, however, might not thrill you. So read up on your own too!

Three of the absolutely best sources for relevant, up-to-date and in-student-style educational travel are: The Lonely Planet Travel Survival Kit by Lonely Planet Press; Let's Go by St. Martin's Press (the definitive budget travel guide); and The Berkeley Guides by Fodor's Travel Publications (written by Berkeley students in cooperation with the Associated Students of the University of California). All of these sources focus on affordable travel options. Spend some time in our College's own Study Abroad Resource Room (Gaige 164) and in a bookstore or library perusing several books in the travel section.

Arm yourself with questions and look for your answers in several different books. Narrow your selection to those that serve your purpose best. First might be life-style questions or maybe "things-to-do-and-see" queries. What you are looking for is the book or books that you can take with you and refer to constantly while studying overseas. A good guidebook will speak to YOU. It is a good idea, if you are going to spend time in a major city, to get a separate book on that city. Information as to timetables, events, specific places to eat or hang-out and the costs will be itemized and usually critiqued in detail. This is where you can find out if you should "go as you are" or tone down a tad. It is where you find out what is safe and what is not. A good travel guide will give you the information you need in order to get the most out of your experience.

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What Resources Do You Have?

The Study Abroad office located in Craig-Lee Room 135 is where Dr. Motte's office is located. The Political Science Lounge, Craig Lee 217, has tables, desks (and floor space!) to spread stuff out on and a plethora of materials on programs of every sort for studying abroad. Maybe you have been to the bookstore and have an idea of what country interests you. Here you can find out what programs are available.

Rhode Island College is directly affiliated with several institutions with ties to the United Kingdom with the South Bank University in London, and language institutes in Florence, Italy and southern Mexico. The New England College Exchange Program, enables RIC students to attend any university in Quebec for RIC tuition. Through our exchange program with St. Martin's College in Lancaster, England, it is possible for education students to take approved classes and do their student teaching overseas.

Okay. You have thought about the options and decided there may be something in this for you. You will want to speak with your academic advisor if you have not already done so to see how your plans fit in with your overall course of study here at the College.

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How Much Will Studying Abroad Cost?

You have decided to go for it! Now you need help in figuring out how to make your dream become a reality. We call this process "pragmatic dream-shaping". That means that we believe that it is important to follow a dream, but it is just as important to have a focus, and a dream that does not break the bank. How to have the dream within your means is a big part of what Study Abroad is about.

Each individual plan is going to vary in cost due to length of stay, destination, design of study and so forth. Do you want a fixed price pre-packaged program? You pay for the convenience, and there are programs with this in mind. But how to have something similar, or sometimes even the same, for less? We can show you. For example, you might apply to a college abroad directly. In avoiding the "middleman", so to speak, a substantial cost can be reduced. We will also help you determine a realistic budget for living and travel.

Can financial aid be used for study abroad? This has to be the most commonly asked question and the answer is a resounding, YES. First you have your plan in mind and have worked out with the Study Abroad Program a budget that includes the cost of travel, tuition, books, fees, personal expenses, and so on. You then submit your itemized budget to the Associate Director for Financial Aid in the Student Financial Aid Office in Craig-Lee. This task must be done four months in advance. To go abroad in the summer or fall, you will need to make your financial aid arrangements by February or March. For a spring departure, you will want to make your arrangements for August or September before leaving.

You can get a student loan, even if you are not currently receiving financial aid. The maximum amount is approximately $5,500.00 per year for a dependent student. An independent student may borrow up to $10,500.00 per year. Interest rates for student loans have been historically among the lowest available. Work-study does not transfer abroad, however some programs have paid internships. When your financial aid comes through, you will need to let the Bursar's Office know where to send the money.

Grants, such as the Pell Grant can be applied towards study abroad. Just keep in mind, if you are away for one semester or the summer, there is still the rest of the year to consider. It is the job of the Study Abroad Coordinator to answer your financial aid questions clearly so you can determine how best to afford your dream.

There are also limited numbers of private scholarships. The Rhode Island College Foundation, for example, has the Ridgway F. Shinn, Jr. Study Abroad Fund. This private scholarship provides an award based on the merit of a written grant proposal. For more information, speak to Dr. Mark Motte (Political Science Department) or Dr. Joanne Schneider (History Department). It is never too soon to be thinking about and saving towards study abroad just in case you decide to try it.

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What Else Do I Need To Know?

You know where you are going and what you are going to do and how it will be paid for. What next? Tickets, passport and shots. But first, contact the Records Office. They need to know when you will be gone and for how long, and how many credits you are to receive in what area.

Tickets: usually the earlier you buy, the cheaper they are. As with anything, make comparisons. Study Abroad can help with suggestions.

Passports: don't leave home without one! If you have one, make sure it will not expire while you are out of the country. If you do not have one, Study Abroad can provide you with the necessary information for obtaining one. Forms are available at the central post office downtown. The cost for a first-time passport is $65.00 and it is $55.00 to renew. It takes about three weeks to get a passport. To be on the safe side, do this ASAP but no less than six weeks before you want to leave.

Shots: whether or not you need any depends on where you are going. It is a good idea to review your general health with a doctor. Certainly, your family physician or local clinic can give you the shots you need. However, they might not always know what is required, where, at any given moment.

You can call the Miriam Hospital travel clinic for information or to make an appointment for a consultation. Certainly, more exotic locales away from sophisticated metropolitan areas call for as careful an evaluation as possible. The staff at the travel clinic can review your life-style with you and offer advice on how best to take care of yourself in your host country. You will be apprised of what supplies you should plan to pack that may not be available.

Should you have any special health-care needs, the travel clinic can provide information on hospitals and English-speaking doctors anywhere in the world. For more information call: 401-331-8500, ext. 32930.

Be forewarned: health insurance generally does not cover the cost of elective preventive medicine. Make sure you ask what the cost will be to you in order to budget for it as a necessary travel expense. Get your shots one to two months before departure. A word of advice: go to the dentist as well, no less than one month prior to leaving the country.

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What Should I Do While I'm Waiting To Study Abroad?

You won't be leaving for another couple of months. Returnees have all said that they could have benefited from being a little more prepared. That simply means it is now time to turn back to those great travel guides and go through them like a box of chocolates - picking out the ones that look really good and just enjoying them. What you learn will ease your way into a new world, reduce some of the anxiety that goes with any new adventure and perhaps save you someday from missing the last bus from Dartmoor some cold, rainy night.

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Page last updated: December 19, 2011