How to Go Abroad Multiple Times
Studying abroad is one of the most amazing experiences for college students. I knew as soon as my older sister returned from her study abroad program that I wanted to have the same life-changing experience. As a STEM student, however, I thought my options were more limited, especially when my planned semester for going abroad was right in the middle of COVID. I was even taking a class that included three weeks in Guatemala, which was canceled due to closed borders and RIT not allowing students to go abroad. Even though it seemed like all of the odds were against me, I knew I wanted to experience how different cultures approached education and science.
I had the incredible opportunity to be part of the first group of RIT students to go abroad again after quarantine and shutdown of international travel. Since my original program to Guatemala was still not running, I decided to look at doing a full semester abroad. I discovered that University College Dublin in Ireland offered most of my major classes despite the rigorous requirements for RIT engineering majors. I rounded this out with two perspective classes I still needed to fulfill. I spent the most amazing semester in Dublin and made many new friends I still keep in contact with. Another option I considered was doing a co-op abroad, but getting a work visa required a lot more planning. If I had known this was an option sooner, I may have tried to get the required paperwork and applications done. Persistence is an extremely important trait for studying abroad. So many options are available to all students if you are willing to stay dedicated to finding a program that suits you.
Visiting the only fjord in Ireland with my roommates
After I studied abroad for the first time, it felt like everyone was saying it was over and my international experience was over. I didn’t want to believe this, so I decided to become a Global Ambassador as one of my jobs on campus to facilitate this. Learning about the study abroad experiences that other RIT students had opened my mind even more to the possibilities of everything the rest of the world had to offer. Being able to help other students go abroad reignited the passion I felt before I went on my first trip to Ireland. I reached out about my original study abroad program to Guatemala that was canceled during COVID and learned I could participate in the next program without retaking the class since I already had the credit for it! Over this most recent winter break, I finally went and repaired hospital equipment in Guatemala.
Exploring Lake Atitlan in Guatemala
The best thing I can recommend for anyone who wants to study abroad more than once is to stay as passionate as possible and not let anyone tell you that you already had your international experience, and that’s it. Thinking ahead and being exposed to other people who love to travel can help get the ideas flowing for getting back out there for another study abroad experience. The other best piece of advice I would give is to be flexible. I originally wanted to go to New Zealand instead of Ireland, but I had to be able to find a school that would offer the classes I needed. I was able to customize a class schedule in Ireland that fit perfectly into my program at RIT. So when planning to go abroad, keep an open mind and be open to any opportunities. Finally, when considering costs, the study abroad office can be extremely helpful in recommending scholarships. Also, I was able use the financial aid I received from RIT to help with program costs. There are also a few scholarships that I could apply for, so finances are not as much of an obstacle as many people believe it is.
Zack Cordas is Mechanical Engineering major and studied abroad for a full semester at University College Dublin in Ireland in fall 2021 and the Engineering World Health program in Guatemala during winter break 2022-23.