APRIL 2019 BLOG POST

Authors:

Maloni Fox
Communications Coordinator and Scholarship Associate
MHA Nation from the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation
Indigenous Education, Inc. Home of the Cobell Scholarship

Shea Gonzales
Audio and Visual Coordinator and Scholarship Associate
Indigenous Education, Inc. Home of the Cobell Scholarship

Nizhoni Tallas
Cobell Scholar
Navajo Nation
Undergraduate student in Natural Resources and Conservation
Virginia Tech


Students will always seek out every available experience while they can. This can be something simple like taking that unnecessary yoga class that a friend was mentioning or making the big decision to study abroad for a semester or two (or three). Making the study abroad decision is just the beginning of the battle; making sure one is prepared is a whole other job, albeit a great life skills learning experience. Not only is there the issue of financial support. There is also all the other planning – transportation there and back, packing, lodging, eating, budgeting, and oh yeah, attending classes. Unfortunately, we cannot advise whether to choose Europe or Asia, but we can offer some insight on how to make the most out of the experience. Oh, and maybe help with a scholarship to study while abroad!
IEI’s very own Shea Gonzales has some very valuable insight when it comes to traveling. He has seen everything from Northern Europe to South America. “I have been fortunate enough to travel all over the world and with every trip abroad I learn something new.”

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Shea in Austria

He adds, “The first time I traveled abroad, I learned the hard way that you should always pack an extra set of clothes in your carry on, just in case the airline loses your luggage. On a different trip, I learned quickly that the cheapest hostel is not always the best, and that getting lost can often lead to great experiences. These are all valuable lessons that I have learned but if there is one piece of advice that I would give to all travelers it’s to SLOW DOWN. One common mistake all travelers make is trying to cram everything into one trip. Do not try to have every experience, instead learn to take your time and immerse yourself in your surroundings. Pay attention to the sights, sounds, and smells.

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Shea taking in the architecture in Perugia, Italy

Dive into the cuisine by taking a trip to the local farmers market. Do not be afraid to try something out of the ordinary. You might develop a taste for it. Learn some common phrases and speak the language as often as possible. It is a little embarrassing at first but the locals will appreciate it and they may even give
you some pointers. Also, spend at least one day doing nothing. Find your favorite outdoor dining space, take a seat outside (weather permitting) and devote an entire afternoon to strong coffee and people watching. Don’t feel obligated to see every attraction, find something that can’t be replicated on a post card and create your own personal experiences. Whatever you decide to do, pursue it with an open mind and patience; there is no rush and opportunities are just over the horizon.”
Of course, being a student and attempting to travel or study abroad holds its own challenges. That did not stop Cobell Scholar, Nizhoni Tallas from utilizing scholarships to get out into the world. “Studying Abroad can be challenging and finding the resources to even attend one can feel daunting, but don’t let that keep you from an amazing opportunity.

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Cobell Scholar, Nizhoni Tallas

There are plenty of scholarships to which you can apply, including the Fund for Education Abroad, Gilman International Scholarship, and scholarships that your University may offer. I am currently studying abroad in Switzerland and let me tell you, it’s a once in a lifetime experience! Wherever you choose to go, make it a point to research the history, culture, activities, and also, don’t forget to be open-minded.

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Like all travel, things can go wrong but it teaches you to be flexible and makes you use your problem solving skills. Thus far in my travels, I have learned so much about myself, and I’m sure if you decide to go on a study abroad you will not only see the world from your Indigenous perspective, but a whole new lens you’ll gain from exploring the world.”

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Keep in mind that there is plenty of support out there to help you embark on a once in a lifetime experience of traveling the world. The Cobell Scholarship currently has an open application for Summer 2019 if you are planning to study abroad this summer (key word ‘study’)! The study abroad program must be part of your summer registration and you must be taking classes while traveling abroad. Like all Cobell Scholarship Funds, the award is processed through your office of financial aid. A little hint about the funding is that the summer scholarship application is the shortest of all Cobell Scholarship applications. The current deadline is May 3, 2019. Do not let fear of the unknown prevent you from incredible and valuable experiences out there in this beautiful vast world. You’ve already taken the huge step of attending college away from home – keep going! “Always utilize the support and resources around you!”