Studying Abroad: How Terra Did It

When I first came to Europe in the mid 70’s, the only way I had to chronicle my travels and experiences was to write letters or keep a journal. Thanks to the internet and blogging platforms like this, modern-day travelers have a much more convenient way to spontaneously record any and every aspect of their journey and share it with the world.

Fortunately, Terra – my 3rd special guest on the International Black Info Calls – has become an avid blogger. Her blog – “American Black Chick in Europe” – is a flavorful mix of travel guide, experiential companion, op-ed sheet, and so much more. A peek into her blog archive quickly yields a wealth of information for anyone doing more than just toying with the idea of studying abroad.

Hailing from “The Peach State” of Georgia, Terra set out to fulfill her dream of studying abroad after receiving her BA in her home state. In the meantime, she’s received her M.A. in International Relations in London, but she hasn’t stopped there!

Determined to learn French, Terra moved to France, where she successfully found a job and signed up for a language course. Now Terra is living and working in Brussels, Belgium – only the latest stop on her bid to see the world!

On travel as “the best education”:

“…it’s one thing to read about an event in history or a monument. It’s another to experience it, to see it, to touch it. That is the education in and of itself. I’ve been quite lucky that I’ve had the opportunity to do quite a bit of international travel and I highly encourage other folks, especially black folks, to do the same. Go forth eat your favourite [insert foreign food here] while in its country of origin. Go forth and experience those history lessons first hand. Go forth and challenge some of those negative stereotypes that persist about black folks in some countries, in part because we’re not around to dispel those myths.

In other words, get the best education you can: travel…”

On financing her studies:

“…how many of y’all have considered completing your degree abroad? I briefly thought about it when I was in high school, but I thought I would have to pay out of pocket (I assumed I could only use US federal loans in the US), which I couldn’t afford. With the help of my parents, scholarships and summers spent working at a country club, I finished my BA debt-free.

Knowing that, regardless of where I went to grad school, I would need student loans, before I applied for MA programs I did quite a bit of research on funding (grants, scholarships, loans, etc). Turns out you can use US federal loans at non-American schools. Once I had this lovely piece of information, I expanded my graduate school search outside of NYC and D.C. to include London and Paris…”

On circumventing the language barriers:

“…if you really want to study/get your degree in a non-English speaking country, but you’re not too confident in your foreign language skills, keep in mind there are several schools in other countries in which the language of instruction is English (off the top off my head I know there are a couple schools like that in Paris)…”

If you’d like to know more about Terra’s journey to date – and even ask her a direct question about her personal experiences and insights – tune in to our interview on 19 September at 12.30pm!

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