Madi Alexander is a a student at Oklahoma City University and an official API Student Blogger. Madi is studying abroad with API this spring in Doha, Qatar.
If you are anything like me when I first decided to study abroad, one of your main concerns is about affording your program. Going into the process, I knew that I would have to rely entirely on financial aid to fund my study abroad experience. My heart was set on the Middle East and an Arabic-speaking country, but programs in Egypt, Morocco, and Jordan were just too expensive for my budget. If you are in the same boat that I was six months ago, this advice is for you.
While the effort you put into scholarship applications and the number of scholarships for which you apply will certainly affect your rewards, your program and host country can also have a major impact on the number of scholarships you receive. Therefore, if you want or need to fund your education abroad with scholarships, choose a country that is not populated with American study abroad students.
Picking a country that stands out from the typical destinations can heavily impact your financial aid. In filling out scholarship applications, I honestly wondered if the people who would be reading my application would have to look on a map to figure out where I wanted to go.
API has a great range of study abroad destinations. Poland, Hungary, Mexico, and Qatar are all fabulous countries that aren’t in the top 25 most popular countries for study abroad. API’s programs in these countries are also some of the least expensive programs that I’ve seen from all program providers.
I love Qatar. Coming to this country is probably the best decision I’ve ever made. What’s even better is that my experience here is completely paid for by scholarships. In retrospect, coming to Qatar was a better choice than North Africa or the Levant because my mom grew up in Saudi Arabia (her hometown is about a four hour drive from Doha) and having that connection to the Middle East heavily influenced my desire to come here. I’ve even seen Saudi Arabia now! From across the border, but it counts!
If you have to make your decision to study abroad based on affordability, do what I did and pick a country that stands out on a scholarship application. Regardless of what country you pick, you will have the experience of a lifetime.
This picture in the south of Qatar, near the Saudi border. The mountain in the background are Saudi Arabia!