"As a low-income first generation college student, I want to encourage others to take advantage of their opportunities and resources. I am thankful for Ross Global Initiatives for allowing me to go abroad to China and learn more about my Chinese-American identity."
"As a first generation college student before freshman year at U of M, I never envisioned having the opportunity to study abroad! It was a truly eye-opening experience traveling to Europe and Latin America. Thanks to generous alumni donors, Global Initiatives made this life-time experience financially feasible."
"As a first generation college student and a child of Polish refugees, I had the opportunity to look up at the wall that held my parents captive during the Cold War. Even though some of the students on my program had visited Greece and the Aegean Islands before, I could watch a Santorini sunset for the first time after a long day of exploring different ancient Greek archeological sites and learning about Minoan culture."
"My parents did not have the luxury and access to higher education therefore have always pushed me to pursue a degree. Having a child attend college was a huge accomplishment in their eyes but once I received the opportunity to go abroad for a semester they were ecstatic. Their excitement made my experience living and learning in Milan, Italy so much more meaningful."
"As a first generation Arab American, I grew up between the American and Syrian culture. Studying abroad was an amazing experience because I was able to learn about other cultures and compare people's experiences to mine. I was able to meet and connect with so many different cultures and expand my knowledge of the people and world around me."
Your decision to travel abroad as a first-generation college student may be unfamiliar terrain for you and your family or friends. Remember that there are lots of resources at U-M that can help you plan and execute a safe and successful journey abroad. Use this page to explore considerations, opportunities, and challenges of traveling abroad as a first-generation college student.
Did You Know?
- At U-M approximately 31% of first-generation students have an international experience.
- The Hechinger Report notes that while the number of Americans that have studied abroad has tripled over the last two decades, first-generation students and minority college students are less likely to take advantage of these opportunities due to cultural and financial considerations.
Time to Reflect:
As you consider and prepare for an international experience, use the following questions as a guide. Keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive list and you may relate to multiple identities. You are encouraged to discuss these topics in-person with an education abroad advisor in your school or college. The First Generation Student Gateway and The Office of Financial Aid can also provide guidance and resources as you prepare for your experience.
- Understand the options
- What U-M options are available for travel abroad?
- What type of experience might fit best with my goals?
- If there are no U-M programs available that fit my interest, budget, or schedule, how will I investigate other education abroad opportunities?
- Understand the process
- What is involved in the application process for international experiences?
- How do I apply for a passport?
- Will I need to apply for a visa? How do I do so?
- Talk with your family and support network
- What worries might my family or friends have about my international experience? What information might help them feel more comfortable with me traveling abroad?
- How can I communicate the value of education abroad to my family?
- Examine the timing
- When can I fit an international experience into my academic schedule?
- How will I balance being abroad with other opportunities I may have on campus, such as a job, scholarship requirements, and my academic career?
- What are the application deadlines for international experiences?
- When should I start planning for my international experience?
- Consider the impact
- What impact can going abroad have on my academics and career path?
Further explore first generation considerations in international travel through the following resources:
Download the First Generation Abroad flyer for additional questions and considerations for traveling abroad. Bring this resource with you when meeting with an academic advisor, education abroad advisor, or other UM office.
U-M ranked 4th in the nation in the number of students studying abroad for the 2017-2018 academic year.
Institute of International Education
U-M’s International Institute houses 17 centers and programs focused on world regions and global themes