Studying abroad is definitely one of the best experiences you can have in your life! It will allow you to grow academically and personally by learning from the culture of a different country and living by yourself.
Depending on the amount of time that you want to spend abroad, there are many educational institutions all around the world in which you can spend from 2 or 3 weeks on a short course or seminar to a semester or a year abroad during university.
Unfortunately, the costs associated are high, but don’t worry let me share with you my experience studying abroad with the help of scholarships, how can you find them, and what should you consider to choose a program.
1. My experience
So far I have participated in these study programs abroad:
University Exchange semester – Full Grant
A semester abroad in Austria (Ernst Mach Grant)
I studied a semester abroad in Vienna with the help of the Ernst Mach Grant.
Award: tuition, accommodation, living expenses, and flights.
You can read the post How to win the Ernst Mach Grant for a semester or year abroad in Austria for a detailed description.
Short summer course – Full Grant
The summer academy Waves of Democracy in Denmark (Granted)
A group conformed by young students from all over Europe, participated in this platform for dialogue and networking. We had several workshops, cultural events, and activities around the city.
Award: tuition, accommodation, living expenses, and transport inside Europe.
You can read the post How to participate in the Summer Academy Waves of Democracy in Denmark for a detailed description.
2. The process to find scholarships
a. If you are currently a student at University
If you are currently a student at University, the first step should be to contact the exchange department in your school and ask for the list of agreements with foreign schools.
For instance, sometimes there are modalities in which you can pay the same tuition fee as the one you pay in your school but to the university abroad; in that case the only extra costs in which you’ll incur will be accommodation, living expenses and airplane ticket.
Moreover, it may be possible that your school has scholarship agreements. But don’t worry if it doesn’t, in my case I went to study to Austria with the Ernst Mach Grant and my university didn’t have any pre-established agreements with any Austrian university.
After this, you can check the Scholarships Databases (next section).
b. If you are working
On the other hand, if you are not a studying at the moment and you are a professional looking for career development, you can also search on Scholarships Databases (next section).
3. Scholarships Databases
Websites and Facebook Pages
The best way to search for scholarships is to:
- Constantly check Scholarship websites
- Like their Facebook pages
Usually, these sites have both a website and a Facebook page, so I recommend you to like their Facebook page because they will usually post the scholarships when their application period begins.
For instance, if you’re checking your Facebook Timeline and see a scholarship you like, you can instantly look which are its requirements and apply before the deadline.
a. International Scholarship Databases Websites
You can search scholarships in the following websites:
Opportunity Desk (OD) is the largest online platform that shares information on relevant learning and growth opportunities for youth around the world. It helps young people prepare for the future connecting them with grants, scholarships, fellowships, awards, conferences, jobs, internships, and more.
More information about Opportunity Desk here.
It has ten different categories of opportunities which include: Scholarship, Internship, Exchange Program, Fellowship, workshop, conference and competition, award, grants and international jobs.
More information about Youth Opportunities here.
Edu-Active is an amazing website to find opportunities to study, work, and volunteer abroad. It provides information about scholarships, grants, masters, PhD, trainings, conferences, camps, volunteering, contests, e-books, internships, jobs and more.
More information about Edu-Active here.
b. Scholarship Databases focused on your nationality
Another important thing to consider is that scholarships are offered depending on the country of origin of the applicant, sometimes developing countries are benefited because of the international effort to bring education and other times developed countries are benefited because of international agreements created between them (e.g. the European Union).
Therefore, the best way in which you can search for scholarships is to look at the websites that are targeted to your country or region. Otherwise, you could end up looking at enormous databases in which you aren’t eligible to apply for the majority of the scholarships because your country is not on the list.
Mexico and Latin America nationals
The following scholarship databases websites are focused in Mexico and Latin America but if you are not living in this regions and you want to find something targeted to your country just google “scholarships grants fellowships your country” and start looking for these databases.
- Becas y Convocatorias: scholarships abroad for people in Latin America.
- Quiero Salir del país: scholarships, volunteer projects, internships and other opportunities.
- Becas para Mexicanos: scholarships abroad targeted to Mexicans.
- Convocatorias para ONGs: scholarships abroad for people in Latin America which are focused on altruistic activities.
- Trabajo Humanitario: international internships and humanitarian work offers at the United Nations, NGOs and other organizations for the community.
4. Scholarships published every year
The majority of the scholarships have existed for a long period of time so if you are constantly searching for them in the databases you’ll see them published every year.
Let me give you some examples to you can start your research:
Austria – Ernst Mach Grant Scholarship
As an undergraduate or graduate student, you can study for an exchange semester or year in Austria with the Ernst Mach Grant.
More information on the Ernst Mach Grant here.
b. Master’s and PHD
The United States – Stanford Knight-Hennessy Scholars
Students from around the world will receive full funding to pursue any graduate degree at Stanford, including the JD, MA, MBA, MD, MFA, MS, and PhD programs, as well as all joint- and dual-degrees.
More information on the Stanford Knight-Hennessy Scholars here.
Spain – Carolina Foundation
Aims to facilitate and promote graduate studies and the specialization and updating of knowledge of postgraduates, professors, researchers, artists and professionals from Latin American countries members of the Ibero-American Nations Community and Portugal.
More information on Carolina Foundation Scholarships here.
Australia – Endeavour Scholarships and Fellowships
The Australia Awards are the Australian Government’s competitive, merit-based scholarships and fellowships providing opportunities for overseas citizens to undertake study, research or professional development in Australia.
More information on the Endeavour Scholarships here.
c. Short Programs
Worldwide – Sprachcaffe Scholarship to study a language course abroad
Sprachcaffe Languages Plus has 28 language schools all around the world and offers courses to learn English, Spanish, French, Italian, German, Chinese and Arab.
Find more about the Sprachcaffe Scholarship here.
5. What do you need to consider to choose a study program?
To find the best opportunity I recommend you to consider the following points: location, duration and requirements.
Three important things to consider to choose the place where you want to study abroad are its culture, language and airplane ticket cost.
First, you can grow as a person by experiencing the traditions and culture of different places; second, you can learn a new language or improve your skills in one you already know by taking classes and talking with native speakers in a foreign country and third it’s important to consider that sometimes the airplane tickets are very expensive depending on the place and season when you want to go and the scholarships sometimes cover this expense but others don’t.
Therefore I suggest you to first do a budget and calculate the amount of money that you can spend, then search for the available scholarships and then decide between the viable options which is the one you like the most.
For the airplane tickets I recommend you to use the “EXPLORE” KAYAK feature to get an idea of the ticket prices to different countries. Here after you select the country of origin it’ll show you the prices to all other countries around the world. You can access it here: kayak.com/explore/
Scholarships vary a lot and depend on your level of studies so keep in mind you don’t necessarily have to go a year abroad but you can also assist to summer courses or workshops.
Keep in mind that in the application process for almost all of these programs will ask you proof of a good English level, your academic records, letters of recommendation and your CV.
- English level: the exams that are usually required are the TOEFL iBT or the IELTS. The exam results are valid for 2 years so try to do one of them as soon as possible to have that requirement ready.
- Academic records: if your academic records are not in English, usually you can ask your High School or University for a translation, but if they don’t offer this service google “sworn translator and your country” search for a list and ask any of them to translate your records. Choose the one who is located the closest and offers the best price.
- Letters of Recommendation: ask your professors/bosses to write you a recommendation letter with time, the majority of the time people are busy so it’s better to do everything in advance and secure a quality letter.
- CV: create a good CV highlighting the achievements that are related to the scholarship. You can find advice on writing a compelling CV in this post: How to create a professional CV that will get you the job
A vital thing you should consider is that usually, students with the best grades or a combination of good grades and CV are the ones chosen to receive the scholarships. Each scholarship usually specifies what are they considering in the selection process so if you don’t have the best GPA you could compensate it with extracurricular activities, social involvement, or activities in which you have shown leadership; this could also be bolstered with recommendation letters that explain why you are a great candidate.
Improve your CV with volunteer projects
A good way in which you can improve your CV is to participate in experiences abroad, you can start by participating in volunteer projects in which you’ll only require a good level of English to participate.
Find more information in the post How to find paid volunteer projects abroad.
Improve your CV with professional experiences abroad
Furthermore, if you have already finished University and you are looking to improve your CV by working abroad you can read the post How to work with an NGO in Africa.
My advice is that you apply for any scholarship that you like and if you are not selected don’t give up, improve your CV and try again.
In the Study Abroad section, you can find more experiences of success cases winning scholarships to study abroad! If you had a similar experience and want to inspire others to apply please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
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