One of the biggest experience I’ve had in my life was definitely going on a trip to the US as an international student, where I lived for over a year.
It all began with this dream of living in the States or in the UK, to improve my English. But having no one in my family or close friends that had had such an experience, it was hard to even believe it was possible for me. I moved out from my parents’ when I was 18 and at the age of 21 I was at college, living on my own and had a full-time job in the call center industry (not a great paycheck by the way, but I was making it work and managed to have zero debt then and I actually love that job).
But because money was tight, going abroad seemed like something very distant to accomplish.
Until…a coworker sent from the sky, shared with me her desire to go to Europe for her third international experience. She did part of her High School in Canada and had recently come back from the US from a winter work program that she’s participated during her college break.
I was so amazed by how mature she was, and by how many different things she had the chance to experience, and by how much culture she’d gained. I was like: that’s all I’ve wanted to do with my life!
And of course, I asked her how she could afford all that traveling, because I needed some inspiration, right? Well, that part didn’t go well for me. Why ? Because her father had sponsored her travels and expenses. And I knew that that was not an option for me. There was no way my family could afford to help me in this.
When I thought all hopes were lost, she tells me she doesn’t want her father’s financial support this time. And then shares her master plan: she had a friend that was working and studying in France through one of those Work & Study programs for college students. She brings me the flyer the very next day with all the info and agent contact (internet wasn’t all that popular back then, okay?).
I called the agent, set up a little meeting but even though the program wasn’t expensive I just couldn’t afford it. But it would be such a unique experience, I simply h.a.d to go!
Saving and Planning
I did all I could to save every penny. I stopped going out and to have a little bit of fun I used to rent a movie to watch it at home (to save money from not going to the movies). I sold all my furniture aaaaand I moved back in with my mother’s, which was, to me, the hardest compromise of all.
During this time I was a hundred percent focused on meeting every requirement for the program. I put my college on hold, applied to my first driver’s license and, eventually to the International driver’s license. I got my passport ready.
Everything was happening just as planned and it was sooo meant to be that you’ll never guess what happened next.
The agent called to let me know they had an ongoing contest, where the secondly placed student would get 50% off the program and the first place would get a full discount.
The contest was an essay written in English where examiners would check for the candidate’s language skills and creativity.
Guess who got the program for 50% less? That’s right. Yay!
I was in shock and could not believe that I got second place!
The dream was closer and closer to becoming true. This financial help came in handy and in a matter of months, I was happily landing in America, with some extra money, for what would be THE moment of a lifetime.
Check my interview for The Wandering Educators on my experience as a student in America, where I tell my motivations, how studying abroad changed my life and why I believe you should study abroad too.
For my work and study program, go to USA Work and Study Program .
Still interested in North America destinations? I’ve written about the Canadian Immigration Program here but if you have no idea of what that even is or where to start, then the How can I go to Canada? post might give you a great overview.
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