Why did you decide to study in the Hague, Netherlands program with USAC?
Before choosing to study in The Hague, Netherlands through USAC, I did extensive research on various programs across the world. When researching what country I wanted to study abroad in, I chose several possibilities based on factors such as safety, cost of living, location, culture, and history. I decided I wanted to go to the Netherlands for a multitude of reasons, but I was especially interested in the country’s history related to cultural liberalism, acceptance, art, and architecture. It also appealed to me that I can study the country’s language, Dutch, while still being able to communicate easily since most of the population speaks English as well. Additionally, its central location in Europe, extensive public transportation system, and many bicycle roads will make transportation easier and less expensive than many other countries.
Once I had decided upon the Netherlands, I began to research programs. I looked into various ones, but USAC’s program in The Hague became the obvious choice. I liked that USAC’s program is in The Hague because it is not a typical tourist destination and it is rich with political history. Additionally, USAC’s program was more affordable than other programs and it had the most interesting and extensive course offerings.
It also appealed to me that USAC staff was quick to respond to my questions, which made planning a breeze. USAC also awards many scholarships, which has helped offset the cost of studying abroad.
What do you hope to accomplish while you are abroad?
While abroad, I hope to learn as much about the world as I can, so that I can apply that knowledge in my life and future career. During my time abroad, I am taking courses that will hopefully develop my understanding of people, especially various cultures, races, minorities, and genders. Some courses I am taking are Women and Society, IGOs and INGOs, Issues in a 21st Century European Society, Dutch Culture and Society, International Relations, and Global Development Issues. I also plan to volunteer with a local nonprofit that works to bring information and communications technologies to developing countries. I hope that by having a deeper understanding of cultures and societies I will make advancements in technology that would have been impossible without the global perspective obtained by immersing myself in a foreign culture.
Although I have strong academic and professional goals for my semester abroad, I also have some personal goals. I hope to travel (as much as my schedule and budget will allow) to other countries in Europe and to other cities in the Netherlands. I also hope to spend time with friends who live or are studying abroad in other European countries. It is also a goal of mine to become friends with as many locals and other study abroad students as I can.
What are you most excited about your upcoming adventures abroad?
I have lived in Reno, Nevada for my entire life, so I am excited to experience living in a very different environment. I am excited to experience what it is like to move somewhere I don’t know anyone, because it will allow me to become more friendly and outgoing. I am excited about becoming accustomed to various changes in my lifestyle, such as riding a bicycle everywhere, attempting to speak Dutch, and eating almost everything with a knife and fork.
What tips do you have for other students applying for the Gilman Scholarship?
The greatest advice I received when writing my Gilman Scholarship essay was to highlight what makes me unique. The purpose of the Gilman Scholarship is to help diversify the types of students studying abroad, so students applying should figure out what makes them diverse. In the case of the Gilman Scholarship, diversity can mean a multitude of things, including studying in a country that is not common to study abroad in, studying a critical need language, being from an underrepresented ethnic group, being a science or engineering student, having a disability, or having high financial need.
I would also recommend to any student applying that they have their essays reviewed by the USAC scholarship coordinator or another person with experience in applying for international travel scholarships. I received such amazing advice from the USAC scholarship coordinator that helped substantially improve my essays. USAC and the Gilman Scholarship website both host webinars that provide valuable information about the scholarship and even have a question and answer portion.
Recipients of the Gilman Scholarship also must do a service project to teach others about international education and applicants must describe their plan in detail. I would recommend that applicants research past projects for inspiration, since many great and inspiring projects have already been done. It is okay for applicants to reuse the general concept of a past project, because their study abroad program and project audience will make it unique. Applicants should also be as detailed as possible when explaining their project, because the people reviewing the essays will want to see that a project is realistic, effective, and well-planned. For my essay, I included minuscule details such as names, dates, and locations to show that my project was achievable and meaningful.
Anything else you’d like to share with your peer students in relation to studying abroad or scholarships?
I cannot stress enough the importance of applying for scholarships and doing extensive research on your program of choice. Students should highlight aspects of their chosen program or host city in scholarship essays to show that they have put a lot of time and effort into planning. So many people have said to me “Wow, I wish I had the money to study abroad,” but what these people don’t realize is how many resources there are available to them. Many of USAC’s programs are extremely affordable and some programs cost less than studying in the US. Additionally, there are many scholarships available to study abroad students and many of them have similar essay prompts. Students should use this to their advantage by spending time to write one exceptional essay that can be tweaked to suit different prompts.
Thank you for taking the time to read this and I wish you the best of luck in applying for the Gilman Scholarship or any other scholarships!
Don’t miss the chance to see The Hague, Netherlands for yourself!