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Student shares study abroad experiences via blog

January 30, 2012
By Kayla Green

Kristian Cowden, a recent recipient of the Gilman Scholarship, shares her study abroad experience in Granada, Spain, through her blog.

Challenging perspectivesUpon arrival in Spain.

Biomedical Sciences major Kristian Cowden realized early on that she had a passion for travel. In fact, she began looking into Colorado State University’s study abroad opportunities when she was only a mere freshman in a herd of rams.

“I’m just someone who really wants to see the world and challenge my perspectives,” she claimed, which is what landed her a spot in Academic Programs International’s Granada program this year.

“I wanted to go somewhere I could speak Spanish, and Spain offered more proximity to areas I could hop across,” she said.

Scouring and fretting

API, a program she found through scouring catalogs she obtained from the Study Abroad Office, turned out to be the right fit for her. “I spent all of winter break looking at catalogs and chose API, because it was the cheapest program I could find. I then narrowed it down to Granada.”

Soon after Cowden began filling out applications and scholarships, helping make her dream a reality. For her, many of the program’s highlights included living with a host family, immersing herself in the culture and language and the supportive services offered by API and their staff.

Including the applications, students participating in study abroad also commonly need to apply for a visa, pass a background check, and sometimes even fly to the nearest consulate to do so. In Cowden’s case, she had to fly to Los Angeles to apply for her visa.

“Start early! There’s so much to do and so much paperwork!” she laughed.  “I spent the summer working for fund money, studying Spanish, and fretting about my visa.”

Worth the hassleGaudi's La Sagrada Familia taken during Cowden's trip to Barcelona.

During her flurry of scholarship applications, Cowden was ecstatic when she learned she was awarded the Gilman Scholarship. “The Gilman Scholarship applies to studying abroad, and works to promote international education,” she explained. “You have to propose a project to reach out to others in order to qualify.”

As for Cowden, she proposed to blog about her experiences, offer guidance and encourage others to pursue study abroad opportunities. “I love to write. This is a really good way for me to put myself out there, as well as a really good way to keep people up to date.”

In addition to her Spanish excursion, Cowden also plans to visit other countries during her academic breaks, including England and several located in Eastern Europe. "I'm really excited for an experience like this. I've always wanted to study abroad- even before CSU, and it's just always been the plan."