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Just about everyone knows someone who has been bullied, in ways big and small. Understandably, though, many victims are reluctant to speak about their experiences. We found some who aren't.
BY LIZ NORDLINGER, University of Florida
One hundred thirty-two days.
One hundred thirty-two days away from family, friends and Netflix.
One hundred thirty-two days in a new environment, not knowing the language or people.
Studying abroad in Israel was never an opportunity I considered while in high school, but wanting to immerse myself in a culture and language led me to leave the University of Florida for a semester and study at the University of Haifa in Haifa, Israel.
Preparing for a trip this long is one of the most challenging tasks I have ever experienced — harder than AP English or asking someone to prom. It takes time to figure out where to study abroad, decide if going abroad will fit into your schedule and how you are going to pay for it.
First, where do you want to go? Do you want to be able to speak English or learn another language? Does a certain program work for your major? These are questions you need to consider. I visited Israel a year ago and knew I wanted to spend an extended period there. I wanted to be out of my comfort zone and learn to adapt. Not knowing much Hebrew, the national language of Israel, is a hurdle I am excited to overcome. Changing your everyday routine is a great way to learn more about yourself and see the world from a different viewpoint.
Next, you need to figure out when you want to study abroad. How much time do you have? A full semester? A whole year? Just spring break? Study abroad does not have to be an extended amount of time. I chose a semester because I wanted to feel part of the culture. The idea of being gone for so long truly has not hit me yet. It is weird to see an advertisement for a TV show, like Psych, and realize I won’t be in the country when the new season starts. One hundred thirty-two days. That is more than a third of a year. It is way longer than Kim Kardashian was married. I have never been away from my family for that long, but I am ready for the challenge.
Speaking of challenges: How do you pay for that big of a trip? Do you have to take out loans? Are there scholarships? I had no idea. I met a girl who had been abroad on the same experience a year before, and she was a great resource. She helped me find scholarships to apply for, and magically I got money to cover about half my trip, which I expect to cost around $14,000, including transportation and personal expenses.
The scholarships I received, nearly $7,000, are about the same as I would spend for a semester at UF. There are so many study-abroad experiences to choose from, including ones that may be at least partly covered by tuition, that you might find a program cheaper or even free depending on the amount of financial aid and scholarships you receive.
A good way to start is by making an appointment with your college’s study-abroad adviser, or check with the department in the area you want to study, to see what the school may offer. And surf the Internet to learn about other programs. It’s never too early to scope them out.
Goodbye, America. Shalom, Israel.
Liz Nordlinger was a 2009-2010 student editor of tb-two*.