Need a Reason to Study Abroad in Italy?

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Do you need another reason to study abroad? Maybe you’ve had your heart set on a country since before starting college. On the other hand, maybe you’re on the fence about studying abroad to begin with or aren’t really planning on it. Despite the fact that most college students are either self-sufficient or independently wealthy (right?), the cost of spending a semester in another country can be intimidating. That is why scholarships like ItaliaRail are so valuable.

Photo by kevgibbo on flickr.com

First of all, the ItaliaRail scholarship covers only trips to Italy (surprise), so if you’re dead set on Brazil, you might want to look elsewhere. That being said, if Italy is on your list of potentials, winning this scholarship could certainly tip the scale in favor of this southern European country.

The program awards two scholarships, each worth $1000. One is offered during the second semester of this school year, and the other during the first semester of next school year. Applications for the second semester of this year must be submitted by January 5th, so if you are interested in this timeframe, you have a little more than a month to complete the form. If you need more time to decide, or have already elected to make the trip in the Fall of 2014, the application deadline for you will be released as soon as the winners have been chosen for the earlier program.

The application is relatively simple and can be completed right on the website. It requires an essay of only 500 words (or fewer), so laziness need not be a deal-breaker (although if you wouldn’t write a longer essay for the chance to win a $1000 scholarship, perhaps laziness is not your biggest concern). All you need to provide is your basic information, your transcript, your resume, and your GPA.

To be eligible for the scholarship you must be a second or third year at a college in the US, and you must have already been accepted to participate in the Italy study abroad program. Additionally, you must be on financial aid at your school, must have taken at least one full year of a foreign language (not necessarily Italian, though it might be advisable to know a little), and must have a cumulative GPA of 3.25 or higher. The selection process is fairly standard, and is described in the most generic terms conceivable (“scholarships are awarded on the basis of academic record, educational/career objective, financial need…” and so forth).

If Italy is on your travel wish list, now may be one of the best opportunities you will ever have to go. A scholarship like the ItaliaRail would be a great way to minimize the high cost of such a trip, and even if your school does cover much of the fee, it certainly never hurts to have an extra $1000 kicking around. All in all, if you meet the eligibility requirements, applying for the ItaliaRail scholarship is a no lose situation (unless, of course, you consider writing a 500 word essay a loss).