Behind The Scenes: Think You Can’t Afford to Study Abroad, Think Again…

One in four students had studied abroad at some point during their education at Cal Poly during the 2016-17 school year. This statistic was one that shocked our group immediately as we heard it. Thoughts like, “I know a lot of people that have gone abroad, but one in four, that seems way to high.”

Then we did some thinking.

During new student orientation there are workshops about study abroad, and same with during WOW week. The study abroad office is well known on campus and hosts several events every quarter. Even walking the hallways in the graphic arts building, you can’t escape dozens of study abroad program fliers that fill the bulletin boards.

So why is study abroad so prevalent at Cal Poly? Immediately we reached out and asked people why they thought Cal Poly had a staggering number of students sent abroad, a few common themes were financial means,  resources, and academic flexibility. However, when we talked to students who studied abroad a common theme came up: it doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, living abroad could save you money compared to living in San Luis Obispo for a year.

International Center Student Ambassador Izzy Perello shared the misconceptions people bring to her about study abroad.

“The biggest misconception to me is that it is an elitist thing. Like you have to be rich to go which is just not the reality at cal poly… the cost of living in spain was so much cheaper than living here … and there’s so many scholarships, and so much funding and there’s so much help to get you there that I genuinely think that anyone can study abroad,” Perello said.

Leanna Newby, our very own reporter, was almost the perfect candidate for a feature story about this. Unlike many other students, Leanna chose to study abroad during Winter and Spring quarter. She applied for a scholarship and was allotted the entire fund set aside for those quarters, making her abroad experience very financially doable. Newby was able to write about her experience through this story, a journalism first for her.

“I loved working on this story due to the personal connection I have with the international center. I love conducting interviews so meeting the directors of the office and various students who have studied abroad was very exciting for me. I am self conscious about my writing skills but stretching myself with this story and writing in a first person perspective was a unique and challenging opportunity. I was thankful for all of the help I received from Professor Kim and my peer review session and hope that our hard work will be evident through this piece,”Newby said.

For the interactive portion of this story, McKenna Roberson had the opportunity to learn about parallex scrolling. Including a more immersive visual component was important to Roberson and made it one of her favorite projects that she worked on in this class.

“This project was my favorite to work on because I liked the interactive part of the project. It was fun seeing and putting together all these beautiful images from students time abroad. I loved the creativity aspect! I also think the parallax component is a really effective storytelling medium because it gives the reader the ability to follow along and be captivated by every new image. I’m glad we switched to it,” Roberson said.

Students who studied abroad graciously shared photos and video they took during their time abroad. These clips really highlighted the immersive experience that students gain during their time abroad. Lauren McElroy, who worked on the video for this story, was able to use these submitted clips as b-roll.

“It was interesting to learn about peoples’ study abroad experiences while working on this project. Premier is the adobe program I struggle with the most, so it was good to push myself on this project,” McElroy said.

From the initial thought to the final draft, this story shaped itself over the past two weeks of reporting. Conducting outreach was crucial to understanding where to take such an exciting story. Taylor Barnett, who worked on Strategy and Engagement for this story, received a decent amount of audience feedback.

“What I loved most about this story was how audience driven it became. People on social media were very vocal about what they wanted to know. This is the first story where I’ve been able to cater to the story the audience wants told, which was an incredible experience,”  Barnett said.