By Nathan Hritz
Imagine spending your college years traveling to countries such as the Bahamas, Chile and Brazil, and becoming immersed in new cultures while gaining an education. That’s exactly what Youngstown State University junior Jenna DeLaurentis is doing, and she talked to The Jambar about her experience so far and how other YSU students can do it, too.
Q: How has your experience been with traveling?
A: Going abroad has been the best decision I have ever made. When you arrive in a new place with no knowledge of the language or customs, you arrive with only your personal determination to make the experience the best that you can. Through traveling, I have met hundreds of people from around the world, learned new languages, and have experienced so many beautiful cultures and destinations. It has given me the opportunity to enhance my education on a global scale, which I think is vital in today’s global workforce.
Q: Which organization are you travelling with?
A: Right now I am studying abroad with University Studies Abroad Consortium Study Abroad in Santiago, Chile. I have had great experiences with USAC and it is a more affordable program compared to many other study abroad program providers. My semester here finishes at the end of April and then I will be spending a month traveling around Chile and Peru—South America is a super budget-friendly place to travel; it is great for college students with limited budgets!
Q: How are you funding your trips?
A: I fund all of my study abroad experiences in the same way. First, I pick a more affordable study abroad program. I study abroad with USAC Study Abroad because they are affordable and reliable! For example, studying in Brazil with USAC was about $9,000; other programs are charging ridiculously outrageous prices for a semester abroad, so I do not use those programs. Second, I transfer my merit scholarships through YSU.
Anyone with merit scholarships at YSU can do this; since I receive $4,000 in merit scholarships per semester, I receive this money when I study abroad. Third, I apply for a grant through my college at YSU (College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences) and I also apply for scholarships through USAC Study Abroad. I have received $3,000 in scholarships this way. Other than that, I work four different jobs in Youngstown and do freelance photography and videography work. The long hours are not fun, but it is worth it when I get to go on incredible trips around the world. Next semester, I will be studying abroad in Chiang Mai, Thailand, with USAC Study Abroad. This program is just about as affordable as it gets, with the whole semester of tuition, room and board costing $5,400. Keep in mind that a semester at YSU while living on campus costs about $8,000.
So yes, it is actually more affordable to spend a semester in Thailand than on campus! I follow @TheFlightDeal on Twitter and refuse to book expensive international flights. This is seriously the best Twitter account ever; there are constant flight deals being posted. I booked a $196 round trip flight to Santiago, Chile instead of paying over $1,500 because I follow this Twitter account.
Q: What kind of scholarships or funding options do YSU students have to study abroad?
A: A Ton! You can transfer your YSU merit scholarships to go abroad and all of your financial aid will usually transfer. Many colleges at YSU will give grants/research grants for study abroad experiences. If you receive a Pell Grant through financial aid, you have many more opportunities to receive thousands of dollars in study abroad scholarships. There are honestly too many study abroad scholarships to list here, so I would recommend going to the study abroad office in Jones Hall to see specifically what scholarships you qualify for. It is also possible to receive a full scholarship to study abroad.
Q: What are you studying?
A: My major is Political Science (Foreign Affairs track) and my minors are Telecommunications and Italian.
Q: Could you briefly describe your travelling experience since starting at YSU?
A: Freshman year, I went on a 10-day YSU field study trip in the Bahamas with the Honors College and Geography Department. I spent the spring of my sophomore year in Florianópolis, Brazil and the summer after sophomore year in Italy with YSU’s Italian Department. I am currently in Chile for my spring semester of junior year. I will be studying in Thailand this fall, and will be finishing my last semester at YSU before graduating in May 2018.
Q: What advice would you give to students who are about to travel internationally?
A: My personal, straight-forward advice is to be open and challenge yourself about where you choose to study abroad. Most students choose to study in English-speaking countries or in Western Europe without considering any other options.
I would advise anyone considering studying abroad to look into locations in South America, Asia, Africa, etc. Not only do locations outside of Western Europe offer more scholarship opportunities, but they offer just as much (if not more) in terms of cultural experiences and travel opportunities. I literally lived and studied on an island during my semester in Brazil and it was the best time of my life… go out of your comfort zone and see where you end up!
Q: What are you doing with your Study Abroad series?
A: When I am on campus, I work in YSU’s Office of Marketing and Communications as a videographer/photographer for YSU. We came up with the idea to market studying abroad to YSU students by creating Youngstown State Abroad.
My personal goal for the video series is to encourage more YSU students to study abroad. Honestly, for a university of our size, we have an extremely small amount of students spending a semester abroad (only 6 students studied abroad in spring 2016). I want YSU students to see that studying abroad is obtainable, both academically and financially, and that is the message I try to get across through Youngstown State Abroad.
Q: Do you do all the videography?
A: Yes, all of the videography in Youngstown State Abroad is mine,except for a few clips of India from the first episode that belong to YSU senior Abby Kovacs and any clips that someone filmed of me.
Q: How do you film yourself doing things such as climbing mountains?
A: I travel with a bunch of cameras: Nikon DSLR, Canon G7X, GoPro, Nikon 360 Camera and a drone. This enables me to get really cool shots, whether climbing a mountain or snorkeling underwater! However, usually if I want myself in a clip I just hand a camera to one of my friends and they film me.