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Abroad Alternatives: Scholarships and Summer Programs

As the year approaches its midpoint and discussion of summer and next year's plans proliferate, the exciting but often overwhelming topic of studying abroad becomes a common one. While semester and full-year programs may be the current focus of many sophomores, BC has a variety of month-long summer abroad programs that are open to all students. One such program whose popularity has grown in recent years, for example, is Professor Newmark's "The Imaginary City: Why Writers Love Venice," an English and philosophy course that explores one of the most incredible places in the world.

Of course, affording these programs, once one chooses the ideal fit, is another concern for many students. Navigating the Office of International Programs’ website in search of aid can be intimidating, but two scholarships in particular, the McGillycuddy-Logue Travel Grant and the Benjamin Gilman Scholarship, are a worthwhile starting point.

The McGillycuddy-Logue Travel Grant is available to BC students "who plan to study on BC summer or semester and year programs abroad, and are also recipients of BC institutional financial aid at the time of application, as well as for the period they are abroad." The scholarship award amount is calculated based on assessed student need and an estimation of the costs of the program, which can vary. The application requires the submission of two essays and information on the intended program, but for the amount that the scholarship provides, this application is certainly worth the time.

Similarly, the Benjamin Gilman Scholarship Program requires a somewhat extensive application but has a strong positive impact on those to whom it is awarded. Rather than coming from BC, it is an external scholarship awarded by the U.S. Department of State's Institute of International Education. A representative of the program, Christina Hatzipetros, works in OIP at BC to help students with their applications. According to its website,

"The Gilman Scholarship Program broadens the student population that studies and interns abroad by supporting undergraduates who might not otherwise participate due to financial constraints. The program aims to encourage students to study and intern in a diverse array of countries and world regions. The program also encourages students to study languages, especially critical need languages (those deemed important to national security)….By supporting undergraduate students who have high financial need, the program has been successful in supporting students who have been historically underrepresented in education abroad."

Like the McGillycuddy-Logue Travel grant, the amount that the Gilman Scholarship Program awards recipients varies depending on student need, but can be up to $5,000. However, speaking a critical language while abroad has the potential to provide students with even more aid. According to the website, “applicants who are studying a critical need language while abroad in a country in which the language is predominantly spoken can apply for a supplemental award of up to $3,000, for a combined total of $8,000.”

Though other BC and external sources of funding can be helpful, these particular scholarships, which are available to students without the constraints of the subject they decide to study, region they intend to visit, or any personal factors aside from financial need and academic merit, can make a significant difference in the cost of BC's summer programs. Most programs cost between $6,000 and $9,000 when airfare, room and board, and other costs are added up, but these scholarships can significantly reduce this amount—something that could make the difference between taking advantage of one of BC's most amazing opportunities or simply not studying abroad for low-income students.

The aforementioned program in Venice, Italy, which cost about $6,500 for the summer of 2017, was attended by a number of students on these scholarships. The course consists of a series of units that tie literature, film, philosophy, art, and history to exploration of the areas of Venice in discussion. Students analyze texts by Brodsky, James, Proust, and others as the class meanders through various parts of Venice and its surroundings, including Murano, Burano, Torcello, and Padua. This program presents a unique opportunity that encompasses both the intellectual and experiential.

As fascinating as any course may be on campus, programs like these offer something beyond the theoretical. They allow for interaction with other BC students and locals one would otherwise never meet, creating lasting friendships over a shared adventure. So much can be gained by participating in this and other study abroad programs, even in the seemingly short span of a single summer, and it would benefit students to know how available the funding for such programs can be for those eager to expand their skills and experience something unforgettable.

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