The surprisingly inexpensive way to change your life for the better


A rooftop view of New Cairo, Egypt’s modern architecture.

Sabine Benda

 I was lucky enough to accompany eight of my peers to Cairo, Egypt over spring break this year for an Intercultural Communications study abroad opportunity. 

We spent the week in Cairo absorbing all that we could of the religion, culture and education in and outside of the American University in Cairo (AUC). By day, we explored some of the oldest mosques and churches in the world, learned from AUC professors about the current state of politics and media in Egypt and climbed through the Great Pyramid of Giza. By night, we walked through our temporary neighborhood in New Cairo or went into Downtown Cairo, the true city that never sleeps, and new friends showed us the heart of the bustling city. 

The incredible impact this relatively short experience had on my life drew me to the study abroad section of Hamline’s website before I had even flown back to the U.S., hoping to find the next great educational opportunity. Unfortunately, these programs aren’t always taken advantage of or sufficiently marketed, and programs like the Writing for Social Change: Netherlands Contexts that was originally scheduled for May term, are canceled due to low enrollment.

Students may be weary of study abroad due to the cost these programs may add to an already expensive university bill, as was I at first. The cost listed on the informative flier for the Egypt program was far less expensive than other longer programs, but still not accessible for me. With scholarships, however, the cost was less than half the original amount shown, and less than a plane ticket would cost to travel to Egypt. Studying abroad has the potential to be the most accessible and impactful way to explore the world. 

For Kate Meyer, the Faculty-Led and Study Away Programs Coordinator for study away at the Global Engagement Center (GEC), making study abroad programs accessible is personal. 

“Being a first-gen, rural student who was dependent on financial aid to be able to go to school and one that didn’t think I could afford study abroad, I have made it a core piece of my advising work to try and help students understand costs and funding options,” Meyer said. 

Dasiyah Franklin-Carter, a junior at Hamline, has been studying abroad in Mexico since July 2022 and left Mexico for a week to join us in Egypt. Without receiving multiple scholarships, “studying abroad would be a lifelong goal of mine that I wouldn’t be able to reach due to my economic status,” Franklin-Carter said. 

Franklin-Carter is not alone in having taken advantage of multiple abroad opportunities through Hamline. Sophomore Luke Snow was in Thailand for J-term and Egypt for spring break, and was able to afford both programs due to the counseling and resources the GEC provides. 

Hamline has made accommodations to fit my budget each time I have studied abroad,” Snow said. “Studying abroad at Hamline has been very financially accessible for me.”

Though scholarships are available and usually very accessible, programs can still be expensive. So why enroll for these programs and give up a relaxing J-term or part of your summer? 

Davu Seru, a professor in the English department at Hamline, reflects on what he took from studying abroad in Ghana when he was a Hamline student in 2007. 

“If we allow ourselves to experience international travel as more than a tourist, then we all change from it. We become more mature and less self-centered — the world needs us to,” Seru said.

Near the 11th century gates of Bab Zuweila in the heart of Cairo, Egypt sits the street of the tentmakers. Here lies textile
markets, beautiful colors, and people working hard to produce their goods.

For some, the most impactful part of studying abroad is the personal insight that applies to future professional interests. Senior Leah Mcalees-Callanan studied in Amsterdam for a semester, in a program studying health care in Europe. 

“As an aspiring physician, it broadened my perspective on how countries outside of the U.S. utilize best practices in health care settings. Gaining this world view through study abroad will be beneficial to my professional future,” Mcalees-Callanan said. 

Suda Ishida, head of the Communications department at Hamline leads students on multiple trips a year, this year leading the Cairo spring break program and over J-term took students to Thailand to immerse them in local journalism. Ishida advocates for students to participate in study away, seeing firsthand how beneficial it is for students to shed an exclusively Western mindset. 

“I just wanna flip your brain,” Ishida said. “You can use [these programs] to empower you…you can become a leader when you see things differently.”

 One of Ishida’s favorite aspects of these programs is observing the close relationships students form from these experiences.

 “I love that, the bonding as friends. So strong, so magical and good for networking in the future as well,” she said.

I certainly won’t forget the friends I made, Hamline students and AUC students alike, who along with Professor Ishida gave me the most amazing week of my life. 

Studying abroad is potentially expensive, and possibly uncomfortable. I started my spring break by hopping on a plane with a bunch of strangers to a place I’ve never been to, not really knowing what I was getting into. Ten days later, I hopped back on a plane with eight new friends, knowing that I had fundamentally changed as a person, student and citizen of the world. 

For more information on studying abroad, or to set up an appointment with the GEC:

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