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When picturing my college experience, studying abroad was not something I considered as a possibility; it was a necessity. I have longed for the cultural immersion that studying in another country provides since I began learning foreign language and culture in elementary school. Craving enrichment from a culture completely dissimilar from my own, I have wanted nothing more than to dive directly in. From anecdotes from friends to literature I have read in school, I have learned that there is no better way to appreciate a culture than by experiencing it in a firsthand manner. Although my heart is set on studying abroad, it is not a decision that was formed without reluctance. Myriad concerns have crossed my mind. I consider the financial burden leaving the country for an entire semester could create, and then I recognize the surreal nature of simply being away from home for so long. It is difficult, but something that I know that I need to do. I anticipate to get much more out of my experience abroad than I could receive at UMass. Despite its notable celebration of diversity, I still find myself at the center of the majority, being an in-state student. Attending college in the same state that I have resided in for my whole life, I have seldom been able to step outside of the rigid society that exists in Massachusetts. Therefore, I know that this dream of studying abroad will require pushing myself outside of my preexisting boundaries. However, because of this, I am confident that this experience will be pivotal to my personal development, and thus my future. I hope to become a more confident, intelligible, and empathetic human being from seeing the world from a new perspective.
Although I have long intended pursue a study abroad program, this was not a normal or simple decision. Being raised in a family where I was the first to go to college, the proposal of enrolling in an international school for a semester was, and still is, unfamiliar to my parents. I am a first-generation college student from a low-income family, which is not the ideal situation for someone organizing to live in a foreign country for almost half of a year. However, I have not allowed these circumstances to limit me. Opposed to viewing my situation as a hardship, I try to perceive it with appreciation for all that I have worked for and through. It is gratifying to know I hold myself accountable for how I do in school and what I do with my degree. I work hard, get involved in my community, and think towards the future for my own personal advancement. I have been told that it will not be easy for me to study abroad for economic reasons, which is why receiving aid and scholarship is so important to me. I am attempting to rise above the stereotypes and prove that anyone can study abroad, as long as genuine motivations lie beneath. I have adopted a more profound view on what spending a semester abroad can provide for me not only as a student, but also as an adult in the continuation of my career. I believe the experiences I will receive will create an incomparable impact on how I lead my life as a positively contributing member of society.