How to study abroad as a BC student

Observation of International Education Week started on Nov. 16. In honor of this, Bellevue College is having two events. One of the events that were held last week was an information booth in the cafeteria to learn more about studying abroad opportunities with Bellevue College. For 2016, Bellevue College has study abroad opportunities in which students can travel to a variety of locations around the world including China, Costa Rica, England, Japan and Germany.

Li Liu, Communication Studies instructor and study abroad coordinator explained how students could apply for study abroad programs with Bellevue College. “The programs are not competitive and the minimum requirements are two quarters of full time study at the time of program departure, preferably 18 years [old] and above and a grade point average of 2.5 and above,” explained Liu.

Liu also believes that students can gain a positive learning experience from studying abroad. “Students usually return with positive comments on the study abroad experience,” said Liu. “They believe that the exposure and immersion into a different culture helped them develop a fresh vision of their own culture.”

“They return from the foreign country with much broader vision and much more tolerant mindset. Many of them said that this is a once in a lifetime experience,” she added.

Sally Elhousainy, a student who studied abroad described her experience, saying “It’s hard to adjust into a new lifestyle and adapting to the culture, especially language barriers. However, that was just the beginning as I progressed I learned to adopt both cultures,” recalled Elhousainy. “It was hard in the beginning but it’s good to learn to adjust to new settings and cultural differences.”

According to the Bellevue College Travel study abroad website, one tip while studying abroad is to understand the customs and culture of the chosen country by talking to someone who has been to that country or learning a few basic phrases in the native language to help with communication.

Another consideration for studying and traveling abroad is the expenses. For preparation, “We recommend students to start preparing for study abroad programs at least nine months before departure,” advised Liu, “This is because they need time to apply for scholarships or pick up a corresponding language course.”

“Some major scholarships like Gilman, Boren and Fund for Education scholarships are all very supportive to applicants from community colleges. However their due dates are well ahead of the corresponding study abroad program,” explained Liu. “If you want to select a study abroad program that departs in those quarters and if you want to apply for Gilman scholarship, you need to apply for the scholarship at least six months ahead of time.”

More information such as application deadlines and study abroad opportunities can be found on the Bellevue College study abroad website.