There’s perhaps no better place to learn a foreign language than somewhere it is roundly spoken. And Spanish major Raphaella Pastos, ’24, will have just such a transformative study abroad experience with support from a national scholarship.
Raphaella, of Ipswich, is one of a record seven Bridgewater State University students who received Gilman Scholarships to help fund their educational travel experiences in the upcoming academic year.
“It relieves a big amount of stress,” said Raphaella, who will spend the fall semester in Seville, Spain. “I was worried because I wouldn’t be able to work while abroad.”
She can worry no more. The scholarship, which is administered by the U.S. Department of State, supports undergraduates who might not otherwise participate in study abroad or an international internship because of financial constraints.
“The scholarship helps more than I have words to express,” said Barbara Dickey, ’23, a psychology and communication sciences and disorders major who will travel to Rome for the fall semester. “I’m able to go a little bit more stress free knowing my finances are in a better place.”
BSU students’ success came as the scholarship’s acceptance rate decreased from 25 percent a few years ago to 15 percent, said Emma Lynch, a study abroad coordinator who runs a program to support students applying for the funding
“It’s astounding what we were able to do,” Lynch said. “The Gilman Scholarship has only gotten more competitive.”
Barbara and Raphaella praised the support of Lynch and other study abroad employees. They helped with logistics and offered advice on writing a strong application essay.
“I cannot express how helpful they were throughout the whole process,” Barbara said. “I wouldn’t have been able to do it without them.”
Barbara hopes to explore her Italian heritage with her twin sister, Emily, who is also spending the semester in Italy. Barbara will take psychology classes at John Cabot University, affording her the opportunity to experience how scholars in a different country approach the field.
Raphaella, who is also an elementary education major, aspires to teach in a bilingual program. She will gain relevant real-world experience by interning at a bilingual school while she’s in Seville.
Raphaella, who learned to speak Greek from her family, previously traveled to Greece. But this will be her first international journey alone.
“I’m really excited to be in a new country and a new culture and to just really experience everything,” she said.
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