Affording Study Abroad: Christian OKeefe, FLAS Fellow

One of main concerns prospective students have about JCMU is the cost of study abroad. However, we would like to show that funding is available for students that are willing to put in a little extra work in applying for scholarships.We reached out to Christian OKeefe, an alumna from the recently completed JCMU Summer Intensive Language program and recipient of the 2016 summer FLAS fellowship through the Michigan State University Asian Studies Center, about how she was able to alleviate many of the financial concerns she had prior to departure.


Can you please introduce yourself?

My name is Christian OKeefe, I am from Michigan State University, and I participated on the Summer Intensive Language and Culture program.

What was your motivation for studying abroad in Japan? Why the Summer Intensive Language program?

Okeefe, Christian (1)As a middle schooler I was a student ambassador to Hikone, Japan for my hometown of Ann Arbor, Michigan. During my time in Hikone I actually visited JCMU and from then on always had a dream of returning. Once I enrolled in a university I decided to study anthropology with a focus in Japanese culture. I strongly believe that a critical part of truly understanding a culture is learning the language. For all these reasons the Summer Intensive Language and Culture program was a perfect fit.

Was the cost of study abroad a big concern for you?

The cost of studying abroad was a big concern for me and without any kind of funding such as scholarships or grants I may not have been able to do it.

Many institutions and organizations (including JCMU) provide scholarships specifically geared towards study abroad students. As a FLAS fellowship recipient, can you tell us how you found out about the fellowship and how you went about applying for it?

I learned about the FLAS fellowship as a freshman (I am now a junior) through my roommate. They often spent hours online looking for funding because they—like many other students—were extremely concerned about the cost of their education. They stumbled across the FLAS fellowship and while they did not fit the criteria for it, my roommate noticed that I did and kindly passed the information along. From there I began to fill out the application and politely asked my language professor for a letter of recommendation.

How did receiving the FLAS fellowship help you prepare for your trip to JCMU?

Okeefe, Christian (3)Receiving the FLAS fellowship completely changed my experience at JCMU. If it were not for the help I received through the fellowship my study abroad would have been filled with much more stress. I would have had to pull out even more loans, my experiences would have been limited due to a lack of financial support, and there would have been an even greater concern for the financial strain that tuition puts on myself and my parents.

What would you say to prospective students that are considering JCMU but are unsure if they will be able to afford studying abroad?

I always say to a student that is concerned over the financial strain of attending college and more particularly studying abroad that there are always options. I grew up in a household that often struggled to make ends meet but it was instilled in me from a young age that there is always be a way to get an education. Financing a study abroad can be overwhelming but it’s important to take it a step at a time, and that first step should be looking into scholarships, grants, and fellowships that you qualify for.


We would like to thank Christian for sharing her experiences with us, and we hope this inspires future students concerned about the finances of study abroad to consider JCMU! Every year, our students receive a variety of scholarships ranging from the Gilman Scholarship, the JBSD Foundation Scholarship, and more. For more information on what scholarships may be available to you, please feel free to contact us at jcmu@isp.msu.edu.

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