The author, Sade, and some friends along a canal in Amsterdam.

NYU’s global network helped me study away in various locations across the world as a low-income and first-generation student. It can help you too!

I’m from Perry, a small town in the center of Georgia. I seldom traveled outside my hometown and dreamed of living in a big city someday. Before college, I’d only been to Alabama in elementary school on a discounted visit to space camp through an accelerated learning program and Tennessee for a middle school band trip. (I played the soprano and bass clarinet, for those so inclined to inquire.) People tried to convince me, a low-income and first-generation college hopeful, that my dreams of attending NYU were moot. Can you imagine our collective surprise when NYU admitted me as an early decision applicant? I not only made it to NYU but also traversed three new continents by studying away through the University.

If you intend to embark on a similar journey and find the process daunting, keep reading!

La Boca in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
The author, Sade, in front of Starlight Bridge in Ho Chi Minh City, Vientam.

Mapping Out Finances While Studying Away

I understand anyone with concerns about finances in college. Candidly, your finances can and will be tough to manage at times! But there are several ways to potentially fund your travels abroad and help you sustain yourself while there. It’s also important to remember that your financial aid package at NYU travels with you abroad and can sometimes be supplemented.

Plan Ahead

With a heap of Sagittarius placements and a dearth of earth sign placements in my astrological chart, planning is my least favorite part of the study away process. But, it is crucial. Being honest with yourself about what you have, what you need, and what you can get will streamline your finances and make your future self happy to finish studying away with minimal to no additional debt.

Know What the University Offers

NYU distributes a variety of need-based and merit-based scholarships among the over 4,000 students it sends abroad yearly. You’re automatically considered for additional financial assistance to fund your time abroad when you’re admitted for study away. The Office of Global Programs reviews all eligible students admitted to an NYU global academic center or program for the Global Pathways Scholarship. No extra work is required on your end for this particular scholarship!

There are also specialized awards for students depending on your school within NYU and concentration. For example, the College of Arts and Science (my home school) offers the Dean’s Opportunity Fund for Study Away. It supports students who need to halt their on- or off-campus employment to study abroad.

Stay Open and Innovative in Your Search

Scour the internet for external scholarships, too! Researching aid outside the University allows you to broaden your funding options.

Consider the Benefits Available to You

Housing costs change based on the study away location you select. Housing costs at NYU London, for example, are comparable to those in New York City. Meanwhile, living in an NYU-organized homestay in Buenos Aires is more cost-effective. I loved the homestay because it gave me the unique experience of living with a host mother and eating dinner with her most nights.

A plate of food the author’s host mom in Buenos Aires prepared.
Remain Scrupulous When Managing Funds Abroad

Whew, being abroad can burn a hole in your pocket if you’re not careful. Use money exchange services such as Western Union to receive the best transfer rates and convert the currency before you buy it. (Please don’t ask me how many times I forgot the British pound and US dollar are not 1-to-1.)

Mapping Out Academics While Studying Away

You might be worried that studying abroad will encroach on that crisp four-year plan you organized in a Google spreadsheet before getting admitted to NYU. After studying in Buenos Aires, London, and Florence, with a brief visit to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, through NYU’s Martin Luther King Jr. Scholars program, I’m still able to double-major with honors and pursue a minor. 

NYU’s structure as a global institution made it possible for me to find core requirements and major-specific courses while away. For example, I found a course as specific as Leaks and Whistleblowers at NYU Buenos Aires and fulfilled my Cultures and Contexts course with The Black Atlantic at NYU London.

Several students observe an art show curated by an NYU professor.

Finding Your Beat Abroad

A Black woman, wearing a hat that reads “Buenos Aires,” takes a selfie in front of a mountainous backdrop.
The author sites on a motorbike in Morocco.

For your sake, I decided to end with the fun parts. Cultural immersion invigorated me. Through university initiatives and by following my own interests, I left with a rich understanding of not only how I might fit into a cultural space but also the ability to recognize and appreciate those spaces as they are without my input or presence. 

While at NYU Buenos Aires, I co-created Black in Buenos Aires, a safe space for Black students to share their experiences studying in Argentina. What’s more, it’s a way for Black students to build community with one another over music, film, and games. The University ensured that students gained exposure to the Afro-Argentine culture blossoming in Buenos Aires. 

A commemorative mural of María Remedios del Valle.

Also while in Buenos Aires, my homestay was a site of cultural immersion. NYU Buenos Aires took us on all-expenses-paid trips to places like Villa Ocampo and Iguazú Falls. I experienced Noche de los Museos, a night orchestrated by the Argentina Ministry of Culture to encourage people to visit art and cultural museums. We all collectively celebrated the World Cup tournament with on-campus and outdoor viewing sessions. NYU’s positions in global cities means that there is always something to do, wherever you are. 

The author at the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes.
The author’s friends practice tango.
The author at Iguazú Falls.

In London I saw the hit musical Six and Agatha Christie’s murder mystery The Mousetrap through tickets provided by the University. In Florence I visited the Uffizi Gallery with an access card provided by NYU Florence. There, I saw my favorite painting, “Judith Beheading Holofernes” by Artemisia Gentileschi, in person. My friends and I would also regularly walk into Villa La Pietra’s lemon groves and take one or two to our dormitories to make lemonade or lemon water.

Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

The author and a friend at a museum in Córdoba, Argentina.
The author on a boat in Vietnam.

NYU prides itself on its lack of walls. The University encourages students to study away. And the NYU MLK Jr. Scholars program fully funded my cohort’s travel to Vietnam. While spending a week in community with fellow scholars and staff and learning about social justice, it dawned on me that the University has many opportunities for first-generation and low-income students to experience the world while in college.

From my origins in a rural town to experiencing the indescribable cultural mesh of our world, I grew increasingly confident in my capacities as a student and a person. In addition, I have recognized the effects of this on my social, academic, and professional circles here at NYU. If there is anything I can leave you with, it’s do not fret. You are incredibly worthy of all that will come your way. 

A white horse follows another brown horse and a dog down a trail.
A food-making session in Vietnam.

Hiya! I’m Sade (she/they) and I’m a senior pursuing an interdisciplinary study of Social and Cultural Analysis, Journalism, and Creative Writing in CAS. I’m currently researching Black erotics, family dynamics, and community practices. I was raised as a southern peach from Perry, Georgia, but NYC has increasingly become home to me. On campus, I’ve worked as a College Leader in CAS and as a Marketing and Communications Assistant in the Center for Faculty Advancement. I’ve also been a Contributing Writer at Washington Square News and I’m a Martin Luther King Jr. Scholar. When I’m not writing, you can find me tickling my kitties (Clementine and Carrot Cake, for the cat-world initiates), biking with my partner, or crisping up some tofu in my kitchen.