This is part two of interviewing Gilman scholarship recipients. Today, Martha will share her experience with the Gilman scholarship and studying abroad.
Where did you go for the study abroad trip/what did you study?
I went to Scotland and studied the history of punk. The cities we stayed at for the program were Glasgow and Edinburgh. I was part of the Faculty Led Education Abroad Program, so we were a group of UCR students led by a UCR professor. The official name of the media and cultural studies class is Subcultural Affiliations: Transatlantic Popular Culture.
What is your major?
My major is creative writing, and my minor is in media and cultural studies.
How did the ability to receive the Gilman Scholarship impact you?
The ability to receive the Gilman Scholarship helped me to pay off the loans for my study abroad program. It helped me find ways to fund my study abroad trip. It also has given me the opportunity to connect with other professionals in order to help other first-generation students get the opportunity to study abroad.
What personal or financial challenges might have prevented you from going abroad?
Financially, I may not have been able to go abroad if I had not received aid. One of my loans did not arrive into my account in time and I owed $1000 that I had to pay out of my own pocket.
Personally, I was terrified of traveling internationally by myself, so I almost thought of not going because I was scared that I would get lost or something. However, my fears were eased after finding other peers who have traveled international and being able to receive tips and guidance on how to navigate that.
Would you have been able to finance the study abroad trip without the scholarship?
I was awarded the Gilman scholarship when I returned from my trip. Without the Gilman, I planned to use loans and my refund check from spring quarter. While I would have been able to get the loans to study abroad, I would have been in more debt than I would have liked had I not received the scholarship especially as I’m going into fall quarter. Had I not received the scholarship at all, then I would be completely broke right now.
What is something you know now, that you wish you knew before the trip?
I wish I knew not to bring a towel, since the place I was staying at provided towels. I also wished I knew that I did not need all the stuff recommended to purchase for traveling abroad. I think the majority of my money went into buying stuff to prepare myself for an emergency, but now I have all these things like two charger adapters that I won’t use ever again. So, while it’s good to plan for an emergency, chances are that I won’t need ALL the items. Instead, I could have bought smaller quantities of the items and not stressed out so much on what to pack for the program. I also wish I knew to be more adventurous. I was scared of interacting with Scottish people because I was scared of not understanding their accents and looking like a fool. In reality, Scottish people are very nice. Throughout my study abroad program, I saw some of my classmates talking to locals and they learned so much more about their culture. I wished I would have taken that chance to not be afraid to look silly.
Why is the opportunity to study abroad important to you as an individual and to students in general?
The opportunity to study abroad is important to me because I would not have the opportunity to travel outside of the state again. I am a first-generation college student, and the only other person in my family who has gone to college was my cousin. She kept encouraging me to study abroad because she did not take that opportunity when she was a student. I also have other mentors and professional staff members who kept encouraging me to study abroad because they never did it and it was their biggest regret.
As a student, I think the opportunity to study abroad is important because it allows us to get out of our comfort zones to experience a new culture. We are at this point of our lives were we are still learning and growing, so going abroad to meet new people, new cultures, new experiences is something that has shaped how I view the rest of my career. Many of us, students, believe that we cannot afford to study abroad. I used to think that too, but it is important for us to know that there is aid available.
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