In just 11 days I leave the country for nine months to study abroad in France. It amazes me that I’ve gotten this far. Usually when I make plans to this scale, they never pan out for some reason or another: lack of finances, family emergencies, or just a simple change of heart. Preparing to study abroad has proven to be different. With every task checked off my list I realize my leaving is part of God’s plan. Don’t get me wrong, it’s taken heaps of work to get to where I am now regarding my progress, but every single thing has fallen into place.
Maybe, like me, you’re thinking about studying with Adventist Colleges Abroad (ACA), but don’t know how to even get there. Allow me to give you a play by play of how to successfully prepare for your trip abroad.
First, don’t miss the annual ACA Directors Meeting Union hosts. Every year, directors from each ACA school present a slide show along with student testimonials about why one should consider choosing their university to further their education. Pay attention. Don’t be afraid to meet the directors afterwards and ask questions. I originally planned on studying in Italy, but when I saw Cologne I changed my mind completely. I felt that that learning French would be a better fit for me as I pursue a career in the field of communications.
Second, apply for the school you’ve chosen! Choosing a school is rather fun and getting that application in is the easiest part. Don’t be intimidated by the paperwork. Union College has people that can help you along the way. Once they mail off your application, you can expect an acceptance package in your mailbox in about a month. When you retrieve your package, it
has a giant to do list of everything else you need to accomplish before packing your bags for the greatest trip of a lifetime.
Next, the most difficult process of preparing for studying abroad is, without a doubt, the student visa. Don’t let filing for a visa scare you off. Obtaining the visa was stressful due to the loads of paperwork and copies to fill out, and in my case, I had to travel all the way to Chicago to meet
with the French Consulate in person. The entire process took me about two months to complete.
It’s important to check all your documents several times, bring a copy folder, and look like you have money. I say this because the Consulate’s main concern is that you will be able to afford your trip abroad and not cause problems for their government. When I went to my appointment, it took less than ten minutes for them to go through my files, and they didn’t even interview me.
The meeting was by far the easiest part, and getting to visit Chicago for the first time was an added bonus.
Two weeks later, you have your student visa! Great job. Now all that’s left is purchasing your plane ticket, packing and setting up any last minute appointments needed such as doctors, dentists, etc.
The final step is to now spend time with your loved ones and eat your favorite American food before you leave. I can honestly say the thought of leaving grilled cheese behind is
Don’t forget to think of the big picture. You’re leaving the country to further your education! You’re going to meet new friends, embark on grand adventures, and learn more than one could imagine. Imagine the personal growth that’s to be had: with yourself, with your education, and most importantly, with God.
If interested in studying abroad check out www.aca-noborders.org
To follow my journey in France visit www.tourdehailey.wordpress.com
Hailey is a junior studying communication.