As far as the trip itself, I can say without a doubt that it was one of the best decisions I have made. It was almost indescribable at times. Learning about all of these places the past couple of years and then actually going to them in person was just amazing. I also look back on some of the work that I did during the trip and am really proud of how much I grew as a student in just a couple of weeks. The professors really did an amazing job with teaching us the skills we needed to see all the places we went to in a different way than I ever did. They taught us how to think at different scales, through sections, transects, plans, systems, urban context, environmental forces, and I could go on. It truly was an amazing experience and I’m sure I could go on forever about it.

For the Rome Program, most of my funding came from the STEP Program (Second Year Transformational Experience) through Ohio State. It is pretty well-advertised here, but the only holdback is that you have to be signed up by the end of your freshman year, so this is more tailored towards first-years. For STEP, you are assigned to a group of other people in STEP and have a cohort leader, who is basically a mentor and a resource for you. They are all normally faculty here at Ohio State and really want to help you do what you want with the scholarship, which was $2000. However, in the next couple of years, the program and the amount of scholarship could change, so be wary of that. Anyway, throughout the year, you develop what you want your project to be, and I used my STEP money to help fund the program fee for the Rome Program, since it qualifies as a STEP-approved study abroad. I had to write a proposal explaining why I wanted to use this money on the trip, and one of the things that helped me was to emphasize that this is not a trip that was solely just for fun, but instead a trip that helped me become a better designer, sketcher, and student, and it counted for my graduation requirements. And I think that is the most helpful when applying for any scholarship for this trip, no matter where you apply. Emphasize that this trip will give you experience and technical skills that you can’t get on other trips and is hard to do in a regular classroom setting.

With that being said, there are definitely a lot of other opportunities for funding out there. I would recommend looking into the Wolfe Scholarship, and other scholarships that give preference to first-time students on a study abroad if that applies to you. I would also recommend scholarships from your hometown. If you show them the budget letter, they can usually give you an estimate of what kind of aid you can receive or other ways you can get financial aid.

*Also, if you go, make sure to invest in a nice sketchbook that you can take anywhere; it helps out A LOT if your sketchbooks are durable!