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mentor picture Rae Rae
 
Rae Rae
Senior Year Student
Loyola Marymount University
I am a senior Political Science student at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. I first studied abroad at age 15, in Montpellier, France. I stayed with a host family during the summer after studying French at school for... I am a senior Political Science student at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. I first studied abroad at age 15, in Montpellier, France. I stayed with a host family during the summer after studying French at school for four years. In college, I knew I needed to study abroad once again, as I had gained valuable experience and knowledge during my time abroad as a high school student. My junior year at LMU, I studied for a semester in London and attended an American university there as well. During this time I also interned at Le Studieau Graphic Design/Dynamite Models as well. In addition to living in France and England, I have also visited Scotland, Italy, Belgium and Mexico. I believe studying abroad provides a life-altering experience and everlasting memories, and that all students should dwell outside their native country at least one time in their life.

Responses

  1. I would recommend that you donít go to restaurants often or splurge on unnecessary things frequently. Of course you are in the city to experience the culture (and that means food too!) but eating out everyday wastes so much money, and is impractical. Iíd say go to the grocery store as much as possible. Also shop around and donít buy the first thing you see! Especially with souvenir shops, restaurants, clothing, etc...There are many places selling the exact same things for alternate prices so donít make any hasty decisions. I also made a rule for myself: ďDonít buy anything here that I can get in America cheaper.Ē Of course you are there to enjoy yourself so have fun, just do it within your means. If you want to travel, check out cheaper sites such as ryainair.com or priceline.com and stay in hostels/budget hotels or with friends and family.
    6 answers – Budgeting
  2. You should prepare as far in advance as possible. Iíd say as soon as you know you want to study abroad, start saving and making preparations. There is no such thing as being too prepared. Start saving money at your job, and also speak with your financial aid counselor early to find out any forms you need to fill out and which forms of aid will transfer over. Also itís great to look at outside sources for scholarships. Scholarships.com is a great tool to find aid applicable to all types of study.
    6 answers – Budgeting
  3. Of course! It is much easier and cheaper to travel in Europe especially, because everything is in close proximity. Check out websites like ryanair.com which specialize in cheap European (and a few other destinations) flights; you can go to some places for as little as $10. For other locations check out sites like priceline.com or ask locals in your area if they know of any travel deals. Beware though, usually with discount flights, the airports are not centrally located so you will have to take a bus or taxi just to get to the main city. Trains usually offer student discounts as well. I would also recommend staying in hostels or budget motels to save money, and to buy groceries instead of eating at restaurants for every single meal.
    3 answers – Budgeting – While Abroad
  4. This is all a matter of personal preference. You should calculate how much you think you are going to spend and add more to that amount to give yourself some leeway, but be careful and pay attention to your spending as well.
    2 answers – Budgeting
  5. You should become more familiar with the laws of your host countries. Many places do not even allow visitors to work without obtaining visas, and even with a visa, there are certain provisions that must be followed. I would not plan on working without first checking these laws and making the appropriate preparations.
    3 respuestas – Budgeting – How to pay – Deciding On A Program – Career
  6. This varies by institutions. In many cases, your financial aid simply transfers over, though you will need to fill out some clearance forms. In any case, it is extremely important that you speak with a financial aid counselor so they can guide you in the appropriate direction and tell you specifically what you need to do. This is crucial, as you donít want to end up missing out on funds!
    2 answers – How to pay – Before You Leave
  7. Honestly, you should look at what the program offers and whether it will be helpful to what you want to achieve or not. I donít think you should go to a program abroad that offers no classes relevant to your major, and you shouldnít go to a country that you have no interest in. The institution at which you are studying should be of extreme importance as well. In my time abroad in London I went to an American school, which I deeply regret because I wanted to meet British people and learn of their experiences. Although I did make British friends, I had to go out of my way to do so and I know some kids on my program did not interact with many British people at all. Cost should be a factor as well. Due to exchange rates, traveling anywhere in Europe will be much more expensive than going to places in Latin America, or Africa. I donít think cost should be the determining factor Ėif you have your heart set on going to Paris you should do so, just take the appropriate steps to ensure that you are well prepared. Whether the program places you in a host family or provides food/housing is also important, and where the schooling and housing facilities are located should matter. Basically you should apply the same principles you used when deciding what college you wanted to go, where you wanted to live or any other important decision. Ask yourself ďIs this program beneficial to me, in an environment where I can feel safe, in a good location near activities I enjoy, etcÖĒ
    8 answers – Deciding On A Program
  8. One benefit could possibly be safety or a heightened sense of security as many developing countries are often less politically stable than others. Other benefits may include luxury items such and greater access to technology and services. However, what you could experience and learn in a developing country could vastly outweigh any benefits gained in a more stable region, so you really have to evaluate your needs and expectations in the situation.
    3 answers – Deciding On A Program
  9. I would recommend that you set up a system of frequent and scheduled communication with your child. It shouldnít be too often, because you need to give your son or daughter the opportunity to absorb the culture. I spoke with my mom once a week on the phone and that worked fine. Also, writing letters and postcards to each other is wonderful, or you could even send care packages to your child! It may seem a bit cheesy, but theyíll really appreciate it after being away from their family for so long. No matter what, I think itís important to strike a good balance between contact and letting your child experience new things and grow on their own. It also can be expensive to make international phone calls so I recommend using a prepaid phone card or downloading a free service like Skype, which enables you to make calls using a computer hooked up to the internet without charge. Of course, you can always use e-mail or instant messaging which are free. If you can afford to do so, why not save up money and use your vacation time to visit your child for a week as well? Many parents did this during my time abroad and it was a wonderful experience for both the child and the parent.
    1 answers – Before You Leave
  10. I have studied abroad two times and was overcome with extreme joy each time, to be honest. I had to go through a lot of struggles to be able to go to London and finally arriving felt like such a relief. But you will go through a lot of emotions good and bad while you are abroad. Most likely, when you first get there and for a while afterward, youíll go through a honeymoon phase where you think everything is perfect. Then reality starts to sink in and you might get homesick and start to see the flaws of your host country. You might even start to dislike your country during this phase. By the end though, you will have gained a life-changing experience and you probably wouldnít trade it for the world.
    5 answers – While Abroad
  11. Most foreign countries arenít as reliant on cars as America is. Growing up in Southern California, thereís pretty much no option but to get a car if you want to go anywhere, as public transportation is unreliable and inconvenient, and walking to many places is unrealistic. But when I studied in France and London (and visited Italy), I walked virtually everywhere or used the bus and/or subway system. The public transportation in other countries is much more reliable and more widespread. Many people ride bicycles and mopeds as gas is much more expensive as well. Walking is also common in other places (which is a great thing, in my opinion). So if youíre not used to walking a few miles each day, I suggest you start training!
    2 answers – While Abroad
  12. You should become more familiar with the laws of your host countries. Many places do not even allow visitors to work without obtaining visas, and even with a visa, there are certain provisions that must be followed. I would not plan on working without first checking these laws and making the appropriate preparations.
    2 answers – While Abroad – Career
  13. My hardest challenge was coming back to America with such a different world-view and exposure to alternate lifestyles. I was a foreign exchange student when I was only 15, and while abroad in France, I did a lot of maturing and growing up; Going to school and going to dance practices or gossiping with my friends seemed so trivial and dull after I had lived independently for a summer. Youíll want to tell the world about your life experiences, which unfortunately can be a bit tiresome for your friends and family to have to endure. My mom often complained of me saying ďWell in Europe it was like thisÖĒ constantly! Iíd cope with this by talking about your experiences with other friends who studied abroad instead boring your family! You also will miss your host country. You will undoubtedly make friends and develop relationships with people that are now far away from you. Not only people, youíll miss the atmosphere, maybe a favorite restaurant or your favorite clothing store. The best way to cope with this is to be grateful for your family and friends at home as you most likely missed them while you were abroad. Keep in touch with all your friends you made abroad and surround yourself with souvenirs and memorabilia that remind you of your host country.
    4 answers – Re-Adjusting to Home
  14. The best thing you can do is care! I know when I came home from France I had hundreds of pictures and I wanted to show them all to my mom and tell her about everything I learned! She was enthused for a while but soon she just brushed it off and told me do my chores. Even if you donít see the significance of dozens of pictures of old buildings or sprawling landscapes they mean the world your child. Be interested in your child and ask about their experiences and what they learned. I know for you, everything has been the same, but for you child a lot has changed. Going abroad is a life-altering occurrence so when your child gets back, donít expect them to be the exact same person. I would give them an ďadjustment periodĒ of a week or two for them to come to terms with their experiences before they can resume their usual mode of behavior.
    3 answers – Re-Adjusting to Home
  15. I stayed with a host family when I was in France and I stayed in a dorm-type apartment with other students from my school when I was in London. In my personal opinion, staying with students from my school was much more beneficial. Staying in a host family can be a great experience; it may give you greater opportunity to learn the language/culture and give you a support system as well. But I was placed in a family that did not suit my needs at all. Iíve also heard many stories about disaster host families. But donít be worried! Iíve heard wonderfully positive stories about host families from the vast majority of people. You must remember that you are taking a risk in living with people who know nothing about you- similar to moving into college your freshman year. You probably will make new friends for life, but thereís a tiny chance things wonít go so well either. I would not recommend living completely by yourself. Most times (unless you are fluent in the language or traveled to your host country many times before) you are too unaware of customs to live totally alone. If you can live with other students arranged by your school, or with a friend or family member that is different. But during your time abroad you will need some support system.
    3 answers – Housing
  16. There are a wide range of lodging accommodations including hostels, hotels, staying with families, and more. Hostels are probably the most popular choice with students (especially in Europe) as they are cheap, well-located, provide opportunities to meet other young people, and often may include meals. My best resource for finding good-quality, low priced hostels and hotels was hostelworld.com. At this site you can search by country and price and pictures are included. Guests also leave comments and rate the facilities which are extremely helpful. You can also book your appointment from the site as well and pay online in most cases. I would highly recommend visiting hostelworld.com before traveling!
    2 answers – Housing
  17. Maybe. Some U.S. insurance companies do not cover overseas expenses, so it is imperative that you check your policy before leaving. Some insurance companies also have a remittance policy, and will refund any overseas expenses when you return home, so be sure to save all your receipts and medical records. In some countries such as England, doctor visits and medication are relatively low-cost due to a national health care system. Either way, it is best to check your policy and decide what is appropriate for you in your situation.
    3 answers – Health
  18. I would give you the same suggestions if you were in America: eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, stay away from processed foods and those with high fructose corn syrup, trans fat and other harmful ingredients, and drink plenty of water (around 2 liters each day). In some ways, it might be easier to eat healthier abroad. Many countries do not have a fixation on processed and fast food as we do here so youíll be hard-pressed to find a McDonaldís on every block. When I lived in France, eating fruits and vegetables was stressed in my host family and I actually lost weight and became more fit while I was there! Eating healthy abroad is not as hard as it may seem. Just make the right food choices. Of course you have to indulge sometimes but for the most part, I would say eating healthier might be much easier somewhere else than your home.
    4 answers – Health
  19. It depends on where you are going. You should do an internet search of your area before you leave to find any gyms in your area and get a membership. However such facilities may be expensive and uncommon. It would be much easier to simply go for a walk or run around your host country. You could see the sights in your area and stumble upon some fascinating places. I would often go for walks around London and find new restaurants and stores that I never wouldíve noticed otherwise. You can also do strength training exercises in the privacy of your own home. You donít need a gym to exercise by any means.
    3 answers – Health
  20. I got lost plenty of times in France and England and often stumbled upon wonderful places in my confusion. You always must remain calm and donít panic. While abroad, I carried a small pocketbook map with me at all times to help me navigate around the city. In places with highly developed public transportation systems such as Paris and London, you might actually find it hard to get lost because there is always a bus stop or subway station around the corner! Itís always a good idea to ask a local for directions. People are friendly for the most part and donít mind helping you and you might meet a new friend in the process. Most importantly, try to remain calm. And as I said before, I would highly recommend carrying a small map at all times.
    2 answers – Safety Issues
  21. You should contact your Study Abroad office. Each school and program is different. It would also be great to speak with people who have traveled and hear their experiences as well. But I can say with certainty that all schools try to provide and create a safe environment, no matter which country or program you choose.
    2 answers – Deciding On A Program – Safety Issues
  22. It honestly depends on where you go. You could face racism in America just as easily as you encounter racism in another country. In my travels, I have never had any negative experiences due to my race, though that doesnít guarantee you will not. I would recommend researching your countryís history and current events and reading up on any conflicts that might affect you negatively so you can prepare or change programs if necessary.
    2 answers – Racism
  23. I did feel threatened in one situation in Italy. I feel that men in some European countries can be much more aggressive than Americans. It was not uncommon to walk down the street and have many cars honk at you or have complete strangers invade your personal space. For the most part, this behavior is merely annoying rather than threatening, but I would never walk anywhere alone, especially if you are a young woman. Use the same common sense as you would at home. Always stay alert, travel in groups and in well-lit areas, and ignore situations if confronted. In places where cultural misconceptions may occur, it is better to walk away than to get involved in an escalating conflict.
    4 answers – Gender – Safety Issues
  24. It is extremely important! Of course no one expects you to be an expert, and you are traveling to learn as well. But you should try to familiarize yourself with the language, politics, and government structures just so you have a basic understanding so you know what to expect. You should want to learn as much as possible about your country anyway, as it will become your new home.
    7 answers – For African Americans – For Asian/ Pacific Americans – For Hispanic/ Latin@ – Before You Leave – For Native Americans
  25. Any new experience you undertake will be challenging. I was only 15 when I first studied aboard and I had never been more than a couple hours away from my house, let alone another country! However your thirst for knowledge will undoubtedly outweigh any fears or anxieties you have. Itís always important to try new things. Even if they donít go so well, youíll learn a lot and become a much better person. I would advise that you become as familiar as possible with your host country so that leaving your home wonít be as scary or strange. It is also important to maintain contact with your family and friends, as youíve probably never been without them for a long period of time. Take items that remind you of home and provide you comfort. Most of all donít be afraid to try new things!
    3 answers – For Asian/ Pacific Americans
  26. My time abroad has helped me in various ways. Obviously, my time in France improved my language skills. In London I met some great friends who I still speak with to this day, learned about the history and current policies of the U.K. government, and useful skills at an internship. But most of all I learned about other cultures which in turn, helped me to greater appreciate my own. London is such a melting pot; I had friends from Nigeria, India, Poland, Ireland and much more. Words cannot describe the perspective you have once you return home; you just have to experience it for yourself. Also I became much more independent. I first studied abroad when I was 15 and basically wandered around southern France alone for a summer. I and matured so much in such a short time span. I would highly recommend going abroad if you have never been away from your family for long or have not seen outside cultures. You will learn so much!
    7 answers – Personal
  27. It all started when I was barely 12 for me, when we had to choose either Spanish or French as a second language in school. I chose French, mostly because everyone else in my school chose Spanish and I wanted to be different. I loved French class, and quickly excelled. By the time I was 15 I had already completed AP level French and decided the only way to actually test my skills was to go to France. I had never traveled more than a couple hours away from my house, let alone another country but I was determined to do it. Iíd always been interested in other cultures. In high school I took European History instead of the popular American history choice, World Religions, and in college I continued this interest by taking more classes to learn about different cultures. In my opinion, you canít know yourself unless you know others. Meeting people of different backgrounds, even while in America, and learning about their experiences gives you a greater perspective on things and makes you evaluate your own beliefs and practices as well.
    9 answers – Personal
  28. It worked a bit differently for me as the first time I studied abroad was in high school. My school did not have any programs so I traveled through an organization called AFS. When I started French lessons at 12 years old, I always knew I wanted to live in France to actually use my skills. The summer before my senior year in high school, I stayed with a host family in France for about 2 months. I knew I wanted to study abroad in college as well and always had my heart set on London. I donít know why, but ever since I was a small child I was fascinated with England. So as a freshman I began planning for study abroad my junior year and took all the necessary arrangements to do so. The process did not go as smoothly as I hoped. There were a lot of hidden fees, financial problems and surprise forms. I went through a lot of turmoil and stress just to get to London. But in the end it was all worth it; I had some of the best times in my entire life while there and Iíd love to go back in the future and live there again. In the future Iíd also like to live in India and Africa. For me, traveling is more about immersing yourself in the culture rather than going for a weekend and snapping a couple of tourist photos. So I always plan to stay at least a couple months if possible when going abroad.
    6 answers – Personal
  29. I gained a greater global perspective on other cultures, and also re-evaluated my own background and beliefs as well. When you learn about others situations, it really makes you appreciate (or in some cases question) the values you were raised with and help you grow as an individual. Even at home, I try to surround myself with diversity in gender, race, class and other experiences so I can become a more complete person. Itís easy to be biased and narrow-minded if you do not know much about others. But if you make the conscious choice to learn about others experiences and appreciate them, you will become a much better person and understand the world better. To me itís not about simply tolerating other people, itís about understanding them and learning from them, even if you do not necessarily agree with their positions.
    8 answers – Personal
  30. As obvious as it sounds, I would encourage people to make friends! I know so many people on my program in England that barely interacted with British people. The whole point of studying abroad is to gain a global perspective and immerse yourself in that culture - how can you do that if you donít even talk to people? Of course you will want to go to museums, landmarks, and other tourist locations and you should. But the friendships you make in other countries can last a lifetime. It might seem daunting at first to introduce yourself or make friends in a strange place but you will be grateful for it later. I would recommend that you choose a program where you study with natives of that country rather than going to an American satellite school abroad. I mistakenly went to an American school in London and I wish I hadnít, even though I had a wonderful time, I feel I would have benefited more from learning at a British university.
    7 answers – Personal
  31. I learned many skills at my internship in London which have proved to be a helpful resume builder. Language skills I learned in France have been useful as well. I would recommend you find a program that offers an internship placement if possible, as many employers look favorably on foreign internships. Also you may find that you love your line of work in your host country. I have a friend who was actually offered a position in London at the end of his internship, and he is going to move back to England after he graduates to take the job! Studying abroad can provide you helpful contacts in your chosen industry, as well as give you experience that other candidates may not have.
    7 answers – Career
  32. Even if your school does not offer a specific program for a studentís major, they probably can find one at another institution. Go to your Study Abroad Office for more information or do research by yourself. Most schools allow students to travel with another school and still receive the same amount of credit. Students may also want to consider studying abroad over summer as well. There are many summer programs that offer great opportunities as well as credit. If some students too busy during the year to study broad, going in the summer would be a great option.
    3 answers – Deciding On A Program
  33. Donít expect to be welcomed with open arms simply because you may look like other people in the country. It is still a different culture with different norms and standards that you may not be used to. Even though you may look similar to the natives of your host country, many will still probably view you as an ďAmericanĒ and all that title embodies. When you go to a country of your heritage, I think it is especially important to discard preconceived notions and go in with an open mind, even though you already may know a great deal about the culture. You are still there to learn and immerse yourself so donít think you know everything, simply because you identify with that group.
    4 answers – For African Americans – For Asian/ Pacific Americans – For Hispanic/ Latin@ – For Native Americans
  34. Donít assume your parents will disapprove before you even try asking them. When I try to convince my parents of anything, itís important to outline all the points clearly and anticipate any objections they might have. Tell them that studying abroad will help you learn a new language, become more cultured, and give you an edge over the competition that will help you at school and further down your career path. If they are still set against you going away for so long, consider going for a summer trip only. The first time I left the country, I stayed with a host family for almost 2 months in France. This was not long as an entire year or semester but still gave me the opportunity to improve my French and learn about another culture. If financial issues are of concern, get a job and start saving early, even before you ask them. This will show that you have initiative and are serious about the endeavor.
    5 answers – For African Americans – For Asian/ Pacific Americans – For Hispanic/ Latin@ – For Native Americans
  35. It is important for you to gain a global perspective on the world. When you learn about othersí situations, it really makes you appreciate (or in some cases question) the values you were raised with and help you grow as an individual. Even at home, I try to surround myself with diversity in gender, race, class and other experiences so I can become a more complete person. Itís easy to be biased and narrow-minded if you do not know much about others. But if you make the conscious choice to learn about others experiences and appreciate them, you will become a much better person and understand the world better. To me itís not about simply tolerating other people, itís about understanding them and learning from them, even if you do not necessarily agree with their positions. Also you can share your perspective with others and help breakdown their stereotypes. As an African American I often see images portrayed in the media of my race that do not necessarily align with my ideals or what I actually see in my community. When traveling to other places, you might be the first American natives have seen in real-life. You have the power to dispel false perceptions and fight intolerance, even if you donít think so.
    16 answers – For African Americans – For Asian/ Pacific Americans – For Hispanic/ Latin@ – Personal – For Native Americans
  36. I would advise parents to be supportive and helpful. Going abroad is a big endeavor and requires not only financial support, but emotional support as well, and parents should be willing to help their child in any way possible. Also become interested in your childís experience. Nothing is more frustrating than having a passion for something that no one else cares to understand. It would be helpful to learn about the host country yourself and become familiar with their culture and affairs so you can be more secure in letting your child leave for a long period of time. When your child is abroad it is also important to be there for them emotionally, but to give them space to grow as an individual. Donít call your child every single day and donít smother them, but let them know you will be there if they need any guidance. When your child returns, ask them about their experiences and take an interest. As I said before, your child will come back with a new set of memories and will want to share them proudly.
    5 answers – For African Americans – For Asian/ Pacific Americans – For Hispanic/ Latin@ – Personal – For Native Americans
  37. I think it depends on where your child travels. In London I noticed that interracial dating was quite common, much more so than in the U.S. actually, at least in the situations I observed. Many people were multi-racial, or had immigrant parents, and most people were tolerant and accepting of this. Other places might not be so welcoming. And honestly it might depend on your ethnic/racial makeup as well at the location. You should research your countryís history and maybe use your childís study abroad office as a resource as well, but donít make any assumptions without first obtaining information
    2 answers – For African Americans – For Asian/ Pacific Americans – For Hispanic/ Latin@ – Racism – While Abroad – For Native Americans
  38. Try to make that student feel welcome and accepted in the situation. You must strike a balance. You canít go overboard and be ďtoo nice,Ē because that person may feel singled out and you may be highlighting their differences, despite your efforts to help. But you should encourage that student to do well and achieve. Underrepresented groups often lack examples of successful participants and therefore might be more easily discouraged than others.
    9 answers – For African Americans – For Asian/ Pacific Americans – For Hispanic/ Latin@ – For Native Americans
  39. Try to make that student feel welcome and accepted in the situation. You must strike a balance. You canít go overboard and be ďtoo nice,Ē because that person may feel singled out and you may be highlighting their differences, despite your efforts to help. But you should encourage that student to do well and achieve. Underrepresented groups often lack examples of successful participants and therefore might be more easily discouraged than others. You should also emphasize that there are many forms of scholarship, financial aid, and other forms of help available for these students that make studying abroad a possibility for everyone. You could tell the many benefits of studying abroad such as improving language skills, building your resume, creating lifelong bonds, learning about others and yourself as well. Most importantly, you should make them feel welcome and help them to make studying abroad a reality, not simply a dream.
    2 answers – For African Americans – For Asian/ Pacific Americans – For Hispanic/ Latin@ – For Native Americans
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