By Rachelle Brandel

Staff Writer for The Current


A very important part of the preparation process for my study abroad trip was looking for scholarships (the $30,000 bill wasn’t going to pay itself). I found a few scholarships listed on the study abroad site but the best scholarship was the Boren scholarship. If you are thinking of taking an uncommon foreign language, consider the Boren scholarship when applying. The scholarship is awarded by the federal government to students studying uncommon languages in less common countries with an emphasis on national security.

Don’t think this applies to your major? I didn’t think so, either. I’m hoping to get into library science studies and thought my only options were going to be in a library. The Boren scholarship showed me that there were jobs within the American Embassy in Japan that could work with my degree.

Boren winners receive a $20,000 scholarship and an affiliation with the Boren community. Being known as a Boren recipient can open numerous doors to future careers in the government.

The Boren scholarship application took a lot of time, but it introduced me to career options I hadn’t even considered.

I then had to make the plans I had been dreading the most: the plans for my flight. Unless you’re going abroad with an instructor-led group, you will need to make your own flight plans. Shop around and compare options. I used, which offers flight discounts to students.

If you’re using a foreign airline, make sure to check the airline out. U.S. airlines are some of the safest in the world, but many other countries do not aim for the same high safety standards that the United States does.

I used the International Air Transportation Association (IATA), which has an audit that assesses regulatory safety requirements. If an airline is on this audit’s list, it is considered to have top-quality safety standards.

If you plan to fly within Europe, check the European Commission Blacklist, which is a list of airlines that European countries have deemed unsafe. Many countries will not allow these airlines clearance within their borders. This may seem overcautious, but it’s better to be safe than not arrive at all.

And if you’re afraid of flying, like me, make sure to stock up on anxiety and sleeping pills.

The next step was the hardest. I had to pack my suitcases. Shipping out of the country is incredibly expensive, so my only option was to limit myself to two suitcases and a carry-on. I soon learned an important lesson: if you can buy it there, don’t bring it along.

I’m a handbag and shoe girl. It’s tearing me up inside to leave my collection of bags but it’s either the bags or my sweaters for the Japanese winter. I found that my best option was to list the maximum number of each item I would allow; otherwise, I would end up with twelve sweaters and every pair of skinny jeans I own.

It’s hard to leave items behind, but one of the great things about living abroad will be shopping for and wearing foreign clothes.

My next step will be to party and say goodbye! While the goodbyes are hard, the konnitiwa (hellos) will be wonderful enough to make up for it.