Your Study Abroad Resource to Find Answers, Funding, and Programs

Mentor Profile


mentor picture Tony Laing
Tony Laing
Ph.D. Candidate at Education Policy Studies and AFRO Studies
University of Illinois – Urbana, Champaign
Tony "kwame" is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of Illinois- Urbana Champaign. Previously he was a Diversity and Programs Exchange adviser at Massachusetts College of Art and Design. In this role, he worked with... Tony "kwame" is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of Illinois- Urbana Champaign. Previously he was a Diversity and Programs Exchange adviser at Massachusetts College of Art and Design. In this role, he worked with students interested in semester study abroad or domestic exchanges. Tony was also responsible for helping to promote diversity programs for faculty, staff and students. Prior to MassArt, he worked at The New School in NY as Sr. Graduate Student Services Coordinator and has traveled extensively throughout Africa as an exchange student, teacher and researcher. Tony was nominated twice for the prestigious Fulbright Teacher and Administrator Exchange program and received a Rotary Ambassadorial scholarship to conduct independent research on life after Apartheid in Cape Town, South Africa. Tony holds a BA in comparative political science from Wheaton College in Norton, MA and an MPA in management and international development from New York University.


  1. Before choosing where to study, it’s important to decide between participating on a University sponsored program, third-party provider program or enrolling directly as a visiting student. Most University sponsored programs have a program director to assist exchange/visiting students with registration, transcript requests, and housing options. Third-party provider programs might be a little expensive overall, but will most likely include various in-country excursions, housing accommodations and/or an in-country program director. The third option to consider is direct enrollment, which is recommended only for the most autonomous students. After deciding between all three types of program options, it’s important to then review all costs associated with each. After gathering this information, the ultimate study destination should be one that takes into account the student’s personal interest, review of course offerings, political stability of the host country, and background knowledge of the country’s history, customs and norms.
    8 answers – Deciding On A Program
  2. After deciding between the various types of study abroad options, if possible, talk with other students who have participated on the same program(s), and apply for all types of scholarships. When I studied abroad at the University of Ghana-Legion, I received a scholarship from the Council on International Educational Program (CIEE). This was a great draw. I went with this Third party provider because it offered the best financial package to a country I wanted to visit, coupled with positive feedback from students who had participated the semester prior.
    6 answers – Deciding On A Program
  3. That it’s okay to experience homesickness. When I studied abroad for the first time during my junior year, I did not realize how much I would initially miss my family and friends. I had traveled outside the US prior to my trip to Ghana, but only for a few days. As time passed while in Ghana, I became comfortable with my new surroundings and did not want to leave. It took some time to adjust however, and I initially called home often. The program director and other study abroad students helped me during this adjustment, ultimately contributing to my decision to stay. Looking back, this experience – albeit comprised of good and some bad emotions - opened my eyes to the world, and served as a springboard for other overseas programs I would later participate on as a student, researcher and/or visitor.
    5 answers – Before You Leave – Personal
  4. It’s extremely important to have background knowledge of the host country you intend to visit. For example, having knowledge of the country’s political stability, history and laws will prevent the possibility of inadvertently offending anyone or breaking any laws or customs.
    7 answers – For African Americans – For Asian/ Pacific Americans – For Hispanic/ Latin@ – Before You Leave – For Native Americans
  5. Regarding safety, parents should repeatedly remind their kids to trust their own instincts. Oftentimes, “…our bodies sense danger before our minds can register what that danger actually is…” Travel in groups and consider developing a code word with friends, while abroad. This word should only be used when a group member gets a feeling that something isn’t right. If this word is used, it means everyone gets up to leave immediately - no questions asked. Parents should also inquiry with their kid’s host school for publicized documentation on safety. I also recommend the following online resources:

    If parents still have concerns, I might recommend that they contact the program provider/school responsible for coordinating their child’s enrollment and look for answers to their questions.

    Acts of racism are common worldwide. Fortunately in the United States, there are laws to protect all citizens from these extreme acts of discrimination/hatred. Unfortunately, this may not be the case in other parts of the world. My advice to parents would be to talk with their children and discuss ways to respond and/or walk away, if encountered.

    4 answers – Racism – Safety Issues
  6. I was viewed differently in each place visited. For example, in Ghana I was called a “Diaspora” – Black American who had returned home; In South Africa, I was seen as a rich (privileged) black American and in Mozambique, I was called a foreigner. All three places visited yielded a different response and or opinion by some individuals. However, despite these varying views, I still had an amazing time, and learned a lot of about myself in the process during my travels.
    12 answers – Racism – Gender – While Abroad
  7. In my present position as Diversity and Program Exchange Advisor at Massachusetts College of Art and Design, I have hosted a luncheon for students of color, as a way to generate interest in study abroad. In addition, I routinely talk with students – especially students of color - about study abroad options, including working with some to locate scholarships for their respective study abroad programs.
    6 answers – For African Americans – For Asian/ Pacific Americans – For Hispanic/ Latin@ – For Native Americans
  8. This may sound corny, but study abroad opens doors. Many potential employers have repeatedly mentioned that I was invited to interview for a variety of reasons, my study abroad experience being one reason cited. I also think that studying abroad is not just for the privileged few, but should be an option for all students from various socio-economic statuses and affinity groups.
    16 answers – For African Americans – For Asian/ Pacific Americans – For Hispanic/ Latin@ – Personal – For Native Americans
  9. I have lived and studied in South Africa (Cape town and Johannesburg), Asia (Japan), Cape Verde and London, England among other countries. These experiences were life–changing and fueled my interest in working in the field of study abroad. I also studied abroad as an undergraduate and after I graduated I lived overseas for a year before returning to the States to go to graduate school. Many of my sojourns abroad were also work–related when I was in the field of International Education helping to set up student exchanges and research study abroad programs.
    2 answers – While Abroad – Personal
  10. Many study abroad programs offer scholarships for students to take part in their programs. Its best to start researching programs and funding early, maybe as a sophomore and not the semester you want to study abroad. Specifically consider researching and and applying for grants like the Rotary, CIEE Bailey and Bowmen fellowship or national other fellowships the Gilman. By during some of the early homework, studying abroad because a more tangible option.
    6 answers – How to pay
CEA Global Education
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