Study abroad is superb

Just a couple of years ago, if someone had told me I’d have the opportunity to move to Japan, I would have laughed and called them crazy. I began studying the language as a passionate hobby and decided to use it as a motivational minor when I enrolled in Georgia Southern University’s International Business program. Though I’d hoped to find a career in a global company one day, living in Japan felt like an impossible dream.

My Japanese language studies at GSU helped me to endure the tougher required courses as well as a lengthy commute and juggle a part-time job. Taking on so many difficulties allowed me to realize I had untapped potential, and facing obstacles became less scary. However, when Japanese classes were suddenly suspended after losing the professor early in my second semester, it seemed like someone had pulled the rug out from under my feet. My options were few and considerably daunting: Wait a year and hope for a replacement; transfer and commute twice as far; or apply to study abroad with less than two months to beat the deadline.

Instead of giving up, I consulted with friends and family, then prioritized my choices. With a lot of effort and a bit of luck, I was accepted into the exchange program for one academic year and awarded a generous scholarship.

The Benjamin Gilman Program helps students study abroad almost anywhere in the world, and it’s designed for those who might not otherwise afford it.

If you qualify for a Pell Grant and can write an essay, it’s well worth the effort. Even if you’re not studying a language, the cultural experience is invaluable and enlightening. A year in Japan gave me a lifetime worth of memories, new friends, and an excellent education.

Kathryn Shaw

Martinez

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