Planning to Go Abroad (For Those of Us Who Don’t Really Travel Like That) , A College Student Perspective
Planning to Go Abroad (For Those of Us Who Don’t Really Travel Like That), Tsebiyah Derry
Since September 11th, my family, like many, hasn’t had the ability to travel, and even so, I’ve never experienced anything farther or more foreign than your typical Caribbean getaway. That being said, a major factor in my college search was the option to study abroad. Ever since I stumbled upon the third-year London Theater Program at Sarah Lawrence as a bright-eyed theater-hopeful at the end of high school, I included it in my plan—mentally. My bank account, however, did not foresee the challenges that it would have to overcome. In addition to the nearly $200 passport fee, academia abroad is going to require a lot of your wallet.
First of all, in order for a foreigner to go to Europe for an entire year, he or she has to have a great reason, like being a student, for instance. Easy enough, right? Wrong. The proof doesn’t come cheap. My student visa is going to cost me a pretty $477 (that’s without the standard “processing fees” and the fee for rushing it, which I will inevitably do or face the terrible anxiety otherwise). I’ve never even seen that much money pass through my own hands at one time, so imagine the look on my face when I found out, months after being accepted into the program, that such a sum of money would be needed before I even get to the airport.
Then, of course, there is the plane ticket. Not just one, but two, because Europe also wants to know when they can expect your departure. Just because you’ve spent a year eating their food, learning their curriculum, and visiting their dead poet’s homes doesn’t mean your stay is unlimited. They welcome you, but they also welcome you to leave at a specific date and time please, and be a doll and show them as early as on the way to your flight out of America.
How are you paying for all of this, daughter-of-the-fafsa, you ask? Good question, fellow child of the middle class. I got a job. This summer. Very responsible of me, yes, thank you, I finally finished patting myself of the back a couple weeks ago. However, the sad truth is that I should have found something more than an internship at a non-profit last summer. That stipend was drained by the first two weeks of school last fall (beer, books). A cushioned savings account would have expedited this cruel financial process much more painlessly than this summer’s job is currently doing. Of course, I’m grateful for the ten bucks an hour. I just wish I’d earned it last summer, too.
I should clarify that I recommend for everyone to go abroad, just like almost any student I’ve ever talked to. There’s no time like the college years to travel, I hear, and it makes sense. At almost no other point in your life will you arrive in another country and be coddled (mostly) by an institution. I’m going to stay in an actual fully furnished London flat and be showered with theater tickets and cheap travel options within Europe. Considering such an invaluable experience waiting for me in the near future, I guess I don’t mind the initial cost.
*Tsebiyah Derry is currently studying Dramatic/Theater Arts, and Creative Writing/Literature at Sarah Lawrence College. Tsebiyah on Unigo