Updated from the original article
By Elyse Oberland, Former ISA Director of Student Outreach and Dominick Luciano, Associate VP of Marketing
No matter the occasion – holiday, birthday, or just because – finding “the perfect gift” is an often-elusive accomplishment attempted by parents and grandparents. If you’re shopping for the college student in the family, consider investing in a life-changing gift they will always cherish: the opportunity to study abroad.
While study abroad may not have been something you thought about in college, the experience is highly coveted and seen by many study abroad alumni as the most influential and beneficial experience of their college career. Not only does it help students gain cross-cultural and language skills, but it also gives them the chance to see the world, shaping their identity along the way.
The phrase, “I want to study abroad,” can elicit a myriad of emotions from parents, but being prepared and open to the conversation of study abroad is a great first step in the process. Here are a few things to keep in mind if you choose to give the gift of study abroad to your college student.
Study abroad can be affordable
Gen Z students are likely already thinking about the costs associated with studying abroad. You may be surprised to learn that funding is readily available and that there are many affordable program options out there, some even cost less than a term at their home tuition. By pooling funds, parents, grandparents, and other family members can put a college student well on their way to a study abroad program. Short-term summer programs are a great way to have an international experience and, depending on the location, can be very cost efficient. At International Studies Abroad (ISA), some of our intensive-month and summer programs range from as low as $3,000 to $4,000. Additionally, there are hundreds of scholarships, grants, as well as a wide variety of funding opportunities for these programs. Payment plans help space out costs, and often, financial aid can be applied directly to a semester study abroad program.
A shared sense of adventure is essential
A Gen Z student with the desire to study abroad is of a different caliber than most. Studying abroad usually means new people, cultures, money, languages, customs, foods, mannerisms, classroom styles, housing, and adventures. Despite the challenges the come from venturing outside their comfort zone, these ambitious students are ready and willing to take on something new, and you should be ready to support them along the way. Furthermore, ISA has full-time resident staff abroad to help students navigate the cultural nuances of their new home. The things they will discover in a short time abroad will leave a lasting impression on who they become, and there’s no better gift than that.
Safety is not an afterthought; it’s the foundation of the experience
The safety, security, and well-being of study abroad program participants are of utmost importance to reputable organizations like ISA. Every effort is made to ensure the safety and security of participants throughout the duration of their program. Prudent measures verify that all transportation, lodging, medical facilities, communications, and emergency procedures are in place worldwide to reduce risk for study abroad participants.
Travel humbles us to learn from others and to appreciate what we have back at home. Study abroad will be something that stays with your college student long after they return, and their gratitude for your support will make giving this gift even more worth it. So the next time you’re thinking of what to get your student, think outside the box and give them the world.