You always hear students who have studied abroad say, “it was a life-changing experience,” and some people may think it sounds cliché. Well, I am here to tell you that it is true. I would not have been able to experience what I did without the help of a CEA Study Abroad scholarship to study abroad in Ireland. With the extra money I received, I could worry less about the financial aspects and focus more on my education and all that the country had to offer.
One of the biggest obstacles that tends to prevent students from studying abroad is financial need. Most students struggle to pay for college and therefore believe that studying abroad is not even an option. However, there are many scholarships available through universities, third parties, and especially CEA.
I first decided to study abroad back in middle school when I had a family member spend a semester abroad. The idea of living and learning in another country while being able to explore and gain college credits all at the same time seemed like a no-brainer to me. I knew that there was a cost involved, but I also knew it would be worth it.
By receiving this scholarship, I was able to really enjoy myself abroad. I am the definition of a savvy spender so going into my trip I tried to create a budget. My university informed me that we should estimate between $800 to $1500 for one month of personal expenses. That may seem like a wide range, but it all comes down to the lifestyle you have abroad. One can chose to dine out for most of their meals, or they could only dine out twice a week. The decisions you make can really affect the cost of your trip.
I was able to find a happy medium in my spending. The grocery shopping in Europe is much different than in the United States. Europeans tend to shop more frequently and buy less each time they shop. I found myself in this position pretty quickly. By adapting to the local lifestyle, I was able to adapt my budget as well. I chose to eat my breakfast at my housing, pack my lunch most days, and chose to leave dinner open to day to day need.
By having somewhat of a schedule, it helped me to plan when I needed to shop, how much I needed to buy, as well as leaving plenty of time for schoolwork. My friends and I found that by having a slight plan for the week regarding food and activities, it helped to leave our free time open to explore the city; of course, after our schoolwork was complete.
I am grateful to have received this scholarship from CEA. It gave me the extra financial freedom while abroad to truly indulge myself in the culture through food, activities, and learning experiences provided by CEA.
Jackie Drazdzinski is a CEA Alumni Ambassador who studied abroad in Dublin, Ireland, during Summer 2019. She is currently a student at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg.
Jacqueline Drazdzinski is the Summer 2019 Alumni Ambassador in Dublin, Ireland, and is currently studying at University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg.