Thursday, May 29, 2014

Getting My Funds in Order

In an effort to be as honest and helpful as possible, I am going to be extremely transparent when it comes to money, and my funding this trip abroad.

For those of you out there who are considering Study Abroad, but don't think you can afford it, I promise, if you start looking around you'll be surprised who all wants to help you.

Normally I am the type of person to look at every detail of a trip/experience/whatever, and then worry about every single one until I am so stressed out I can barely sleep. But worrying about gathering money for this trip hasn't really crossed my mind at all. I say "gathering" because that is how it feels. I seem to have found support in several different places, for which I am extremely grateful.

Now, don't think that because I wasn't stressing out about where my funds would come from that I wasn't doing anything. All of the money from my summer jobs for the past couple of years has been going in a savings account (kept separate from the checking account I regularly use) with the idea that it would all be for the study abroad trip that I got to take at some point. Being in college, there are other expenses that come up, books being a primary one, so occasionally I had to dip into my travel fund to cover miscellaneous expenses as well. Even with having to sometimes use this fund for school, I ended up being able to build up about $2500. Money from the part-time job I picked up last semester also went in this fund.

The program itself costs $4550, along with a plane ticket (that ended up being $2089.10) and other costs such as new luggage (mine didn't meet the size requirements for flight, since I've never flown before) as well as covering the excursion trips (to Barcelona and Granada), class supplies, and other every-day expenses like transportation and pocket money.

Obviously my $2500 wasn't going to cut it. So I applied for Study Abroad scholarships through NCSU. Being my impatient self, I was beginning to think that I hadn't received any help, until I checked my Study Abroad account one day and saw that I had received $2000 in scholarships! It came in the form of two separate scholarships, one for maintaining a blog (which I was planning to do any way), and another generous scholarship (the L. I. Felner) of $1000.

Again, for those of you out there who are considering Study Abroad, but don't think you can afford it, I promise, if you start looking around you'll be surprised who all wants to help you.

Along with scholarship money, I was given a generous gift of $2000 from my grandmother. While I know that not every has a family who can help them out in this way, I am grateful that mine did, and didn't want to leave them out.

That puts my funds at about $6500. Which is almost enough to cover the cost of the program and the ticket. However, knowing that there would be more miscellaneous costs, I kept looking. One of the first places I went was the Financial Aid office at NCSU (separate from the Study Abroad offices). My advisor informed me that because I turned down some of my loans for the spring semester, I could take them now, and put them towards use with my trip. Which I then did. Bringing my total up to about $8800. Which is more than enough to cover everything for the trip (as long as I don't go crazy).

I know that I'm throwing out these numbers like they're estimates, but the total is pretty close. I am currently in the process of planning my budget for the trip, so afterwards I will write a post about the details of my spending and paying for the trip.

I hope this was helpful/encouraging for you all reading. I leave in less than a month! so I'll be posting about packing sometime before I go.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014


Somehow, knowing that I'm going to spend four weeks in Spain this summer was simultaneously encouraging me to finish the semester strong, and to drop everything so that summer could come faster... which is both a positive and negative way to view the end of the school year.

With exams finally over I can begin to focus on this Valencia trip. I was waiting, because I knew that once I started working out details and planning, that's all that I would be able to focus on. And can I just say, the anticipation has been killing me! A couple weeks ago I was in the library trying to study for my economics final, when an email notification popped up on my screen announcing that our housing assignments had been finalized. It was all I could do to keep from jumping up and down in excitement, which of course would disturb everyone else diligently studying for finals.

Of course, as soon as I got the chance, I looked up the address on google maps and "walked" around a little bit using the street view tool. Now, Valencia is a metropolitan area, and my housing assignment is, of course, in an apartment. So that in itself is going to be an adjustment for me. All of my life I've lived in houses with large yards, and not really had neighbors to speak of. It will be exciting though, being surrounded by people, taking advantage of the time to improve my Spanish as much as possible.

Along with sort-of exploring the area, I have started to think about packing. First of all, I'm going to need a new suitcase. The bag that I have that I would normally pack in doesn't fit within the dimension specifics for flying. If you have any suggestions for a new bag I would love to hear them. Also, as far as wardrobe goes, I want to blend in as much as possible. Which means leaving things that are stereotypically "American" at home, such as t-shirts and jeans. Not only am I trying to get out of the American look, this will be my first time flying, as well as my first trip out of the country, so packing is probably going to take a while. Nervousness is definitely one of the feelings I've got right now. Reading other travel blogs for suggestions on packing and how to successfully pack what you need and only what you need has taken up a bit of my time. There are also some other miscellaneous things that I will need to pick up before I leave, like an outlet adapter, and possibly a voltage adapter as well.

As I pack I will be sure to take pictures, and share with everyone, hopefully to be helpful to you in the future if you do any traveling. An evaluation upon retuning will also be necessary, to let you know if I actually needed everything that I took, and if I wished that I had anything else.

My thoughts are all over the place, as you can tell. Right now all I know for sure is: I'm going, and I'm excited. Given that this post is mainly my thoughts and feelings, I don't have any pictures to share. Sorry about that. Thanks for reading this far, and I hope we take this adventure together.