By Maria Eduarda
When I first decided I wanted to study in America, my main concern was “how will I be able to afford living and studying in the States?” Thankfully, I was able to find a school that helped me calm down all the anxiety involving it, and that is what I intend to explore in this post!
As an international student, and specially a Brazilian one, deciding to live abroad is one of the biggest financial challenges you have ever to face in life. This is because, differently from the American culture, in so many countries like Brazil, parents are not used to saving money for their children’s college tuitions as most universities are free. Also because the dollar is a currency much more valued than Brazilian real, so a lot of money and effort is needed to guarantee a good quality of life in the States. Therefore, whenever we, international students, consider studying away from our home countries, we ask ourselves how we are going to make it work. That is what I questioned myself for two years and what a lot of my classmates did as well.
When I started looking for my college options, I often got anxious and stressed because I really could not find the perfect fit for me. Every college I liked seemed too expensive, especially considering that college tuition would be my only expense, but I would also have to deal with rent, cell phone bills, and transportation, for instance. That is why, when people ask me what is the first step for studying abroad, I point out that it is to find a college you want to study in, and I usually warn them that this is the most difficult step.
Due to that, you must imagine how thrilled I was when I discovered the existence of St. Francis College (SFC) and when I noticed I could afford it. However, although the tuition was much more affordable for me than many of the other universities I came up with, I still needed some scholarship. Because I had studied in a public university in Brazil, I did not want to give my parents any extra expense. So, when Bora Dimitrov, a staff member from the international admissions office, told me that SFC had plenty of scholarships opportunities and that as an international student I was eligible to receive one in the exact moment of my acceptance, I felt so relieved and once again I had that feeling of “It’s meant to be.” Because the truth is, when things are meant to be, you just feel it from the very first moment.
Being honored with a full-tuition scholarship was, for me, the biggest blessing I have ever received in life. I still remembered the exact moment I received the email congratulating me for the Presidential Scholarship. It was one of those moments when you are in such a level of happiness that you just can’t hear people around you and a short movie comes to your mind. Today, I feel like the scholarship empowered me in a way that nothing else could do. I feel that my story was heard by so many people and that they believed in me in a way that neither I could. When I look back now, I know that the scholarship was the boost I needed to become my best version as a student and as a person.
So that is why I recommend you, international student, to try to find a university you know you can afford, either because it already has low tuition or because it can provide you scholarships. No money in the world can give you the sensation of being in control of your financial life and academic life. Because of the opportunity I was given, I can focus on my priorities right now, which is becoming a successful professional in the future and an excellent student in the present, without having to worry whether or not I can afford studying abroad for another semester. If you really want to study abroad, you deserve to live the full experience! You deserve to go to school, to study and get stressed about exams, to hang out with your friends, to get to know the new place you are going to call home, but you should never freak out about your expenses.
Maria Eduarda is an international student from Brazil at St. Francis College. Currently, her major is undecided, but she is leaning towards political science. She also participates in the Amnesty International Chapter USA at SFC.