Basketball, money and studying abroad

Cost has always been a factor for students deciding to study abroad, but there’s one more thing that weighs on UNC students’ minds — basketball season.

Twelve hundred students attended the study abroad fair in the Student Union Friday, and many said basketball season and cost would most influence their decision to study abroad.

Luke de Leon, a sophomore, said he plans to study in Quito, Ecuador next fall.

“I’m going to try to do it in the fall so I can be back for basketball season,” de Leon said. “I could miss out on football.”

Michelle Lucas, a senior who studied abroad in Germany last spring, said she was determined not to miss out on basketball while overseas. Lucas said she watched as many games online as possible.

“We basically spent an hour trying to figure out how to stream the air craft carrier game online,” said Lucas. “It was such a bonding experience, huddling together to watch the games on our computers.”

Lucas said that even though she wasn’t in Chapel Hill, she didn’t feel like she missed out on anything.

“You can still be a part of the Carolina experience overseas,” Lucas said.

Mark Nielsen, director of information systems for the study abroad office, said about 1,300 students study abroad every year.

Nielsen, who has worked in the office for 10 years, said cost is typically the deciding factor for students looking to study abroad.

“There’s a pretty wide range of cost options,” Nielsen said. “Some are scary expensive, and some are dirt cheap.”

Nielsen said Spain, the United Kingdom, and Italy are the most popular and expensive destinations.

Nielsen said exchange programs are particularly good for students on a tight budget.

“A lot of the exchange programs allow students to continue paying UNC level tuition, so there’s not much of a financial burden,” Nielsen said.

Ben Gellman, a junior looking to study in India next fall, said the exchange rate will influence where he studies abroad.

“It would definitely be cheaper to go to India than England,” Gellman said. “The dollar performs a lot better against the rupee than the pound sterling.”

Anisha Padma, a freshman looking to study in Geneva next fall, said she was disappointed in the study abroad office’s financial aid options.

“They really don’t offer a lot of merit based scholarships,” said Padma.

Padma said she doesn’t qualify for financial aid, so her family would have to fund her entire trip.

Nielsen said students already on financial aid will receive more need based aid depending on the cost of their study abroad program.

Padma said that cost isn’t her only concern. She worries about basketball season, too.

“I can’t miss basketball season,” Padma said. “That’s a joke.”

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