A Few Reasons Why You Should Apply for the Gilman 🤔



Before reading this post make sure that you meet all the requirements on this checklist. If not, you may not be eligible to apply for the Gilman Scholarship, but there are most definitely other options, grants, and scholarships out there.  Do not give up on studying abroad because of financial concerns. Trust me, I didn’t have a dime to spend, and my entire trip was paid for. It was the best thing that ever happened to me and it could very much be you.

  • Are you a U.S citizen?
  • Do you receive the Pell Grant through Federal financial aid?
  • Are you attending a two or four-year university?
  • Have you been accepted into a study abroad program or internship eligible for credit by the student’s accredited institution?
  • Are you studying or interning abroad for at least 21 days in one country?
  • Are studying or interning abroad in any country except Cuba or a country on the US Department of State’s current Travel Warning list?  
  • Are you ready to embark on one of the most eye-opening experiences of your life?

If you answered yes to all of the above, buckle up and let’s dive into why you should apply for the Gilman Scholarship.

What is the Benjamin A Gilman International Scholarship?

The Benjamin A Gilman International Scholarship is a grant program that enables students of limited financial means to study or intern abroad, thereby gaining skills critical to our national security and economic competitiveness. It is open to college students that are U.S citizens, attend a two or four-year university that receives the Federal Pell Grant. The Gilman scholarship is competitive, so you will have to put in effort and time, but it is very much worth it. The Pell grant and to be in the running to receive the scholarship, you must craft an essay. You will also be required to propose a follow-on service project or a way to help others become aware of the scholarship so that it can benefit other people in the way it’s helped you, giving back to those who helped you get to the place you are today.

Why I applied

Although my study abroad program allowed me to use loans from financial aid, I was not looking to take out any more loans. Loans equal money I’ll have to pay back later. Gilman equals money I will pay back in serving my community. Let’s be real, paying for college is daunting. Studying abroad may appear to be out of the question, but fret not, there are ways to get around financial restrictions. Studying abroad offers experiences that cannot be captured on a college campus sitting in a classroom. Through studying abroad, you will learn perspective, life skills and grow as an individual. This can all be realized by applying for the Benjamin A. Gilman International scholarship. It’ll just a take a little hard work and dedication. Honestly, coming from a single parent household with four other siblings, our financial situation was, to say the least, rough. I didn’t think I’d be able to go to college, let alone touch down in France, Spain, Ireland and The Netherlands. But the Gilman Scholarship made this possible and I am ever so grateful.

Okay, I know you’re probably like, “Okay girl, we get it. Get to the point! Enough with the cheesy words to motivate me to study abroad. I’m in.” Okay, well then, let’s really talk. I’m going to give you the tea and nothing but the tea on why you should apply for the Gilman Scholarship.  Three, two, one, let’s go!

Why should you apply for the Gilman?

Overseas was LIT! I met people and had experiences I could not have had in the United States. If you have an opportunity to make this possible for yourself, why not use all the resources available to you. Gilman is a GREAT resource considering that recipients receive between 3,000 and 5,000 dollars. BUT WAIT THERE’S MORE! Gilman Scholars join a network of people from different walks of life that could help in your professional development. I’m not finished yet, Gilman gives you career opportunities as well! Therefore if you love traveling you can continue this lifestyle. Applying to Gilman will only help you, so what are you waiting for APPLY! YOU CAN DO IT! VOUS POUVEZ LE FAIRE!

Gabrielle Hull is a senior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying Sociology, Psychology and French.  Gabrielle is a Gilman Scholar who studied abroad with the UMKC French Summer Program in Lyon, France. Originally from St. Louis, Missouri, Gabrielle is active on campus, participating in the multi-cultural sorority Sigma Lambda Gamma National Sorority, Inc. Gabrielle hopes to use her French language ability to advocate for those who can’t speak for themselves after graduation.

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

Fill Your Life With Adventures…

It is unbelievable to me that I am already done with my six-week program in Lyon.

I feel simultaneously as if I just got here, and as if I have been here for a long, long time. There are so many things that I love about this city, and yet at the same time so much that I miss about home, the duality of life is more evident to me now than ever. I am sad to leave my new friends, this beautiful country, my lovely host family, and the many things I have come to love about this country, but I am also so happy that soon I will be home, able to see my dog and my brothers again, to be able to go get food at any time of day, to be able to eat my families homemade food and also tofu again (oddly enough, there is not a lot of tofu here). But it feels right, this balance of happy and sad, it makes me believe that I have found a decent balance while here.

While I will only have been in France for six weeks, I will have been to Nice, Annecy, Avignon, and Paris, that is amazing! I think everyone should, at some point in their life if they are given the opportunity, travel to another country and learn about the way other people live. Living in another country, even for as short of a time as I have, has opened my eyes to so many things. Learning to navigate within the social norms of another culture is both amazing and scary.

A quote that I believe to be entirely true is this: “Fill your life with adventures, not things. Have stories to tell not stuff to show”. This could not be more true, exploring the city and meeting new people, saying yes to things I would most likely have said no to at home, and just trying to make the most of my time here in France has been so much better than any material thing could be. I would much prefer to go to a concert somewhere or just wander the city finding new things than I would go shopping, I would much rather spend less money on stuff so I can instead spend it to go on an adventure to somewhere new or afford to have a new experience. I also believe that one of the most amazing parts of traveling, for me at least, has been the people that one meets while traveling. I have met the most amazing people from this trip, people I would never have met otherwise, people from other parts of the United States, and people from many other countries. Meeting such a variety of people has opened my mind even more than just being in another country has, other students and I compared the things we are used to from our countries and cultures with the things that are normal here in France, and in doing this I got to learn differences not just between US culture and French culture, but also US culture and the culture of many other countries. Meeting these many new people also means that there are bound to be people with many different thoughts and opinions, this was very true for this trip and that was a learning experience for me as well. I feel that I learned much, much more from just living in Lyon and living with a host family than I did from my classes because, in reality, life and language don’t work like the classroom. Learning a language in the classroom is so unbelievably different than actually using that language and learning the way it really works and the way it is used by native speakers.

I can truly say that this trip has changed my life. I have made friends that I will doubtless keep in touch with, pushed myself outside of my comfort zone time and time again, experienced a whole new country and a whole new way of life, and I know that Lyon, as well as the people in it and the people I met here,  will always have a piece of my heart.

Sydney Serrano is a freshman studying Psychology and French at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Sydney will spend the summer abroad with the UMKC French Summer Program in Lyon, France. Sydney is a member of Alternative Spring Break and Pride Alliance at the University of Missouri Kansas.

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

Let’s Go To Lyon!

14 Hours, 42 Minutes, 35 Seconds

As of my writing this post, that is the amount of time until I get on the first plane to start my Journey to Lyon France!

This trip will be a trip of a lot of firsts for me, first time flying alone, first time leaving the country, first being away from Kansas/Missouri for more than a week, and I am beyond excited for that, and yet none of it feels quite real yet. I think that it doesn’t really feel like I’m leaving yet because I don’t know what to expect.

So far to prepare for this trip I have made multiple packing lists, packed and repacked my bags at least twice, triple checked that I have everything I need,  and met up with friends and family in my hometown before coming back to Kansas City. Despite all of this preparation, and the amount of time I have spent thinking about this trip, I still can’t believe that it is actually happening. I have wanted to study abroad for as long as I can remember, and I never thought I would actually get the opportunity, and I am beyond grateful that I am lucky enough to have the opportunity to study in another country, especially a country as beautiful as France.

Two quotes that I have been thinking about a lot lately are:

âťťTo have another language is to possess a second soul.âťž


❝Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.❞‒Neale Donald Walsch

Having just finished my first year in college, I know that I have changed a lot in the last year, I have been trying my best to ensure that that is a positive change, working to make myself better in anyway I can, and a part of doing that has been challenging myself to go outside of my comfort zone. I think that Growth as well as Life begins at the end of one’s comfort zone. It is hard, maybe impossible, to grow as a person, to create better habits, to learn, and to be the best person you can be if you always stay with in your comfort zone, I know that this trip will push me out of my comfort zone, I will be flying alone to another country to stay with a host family in a country where English is not the primary language, I know I will not be able to prepare for and expect everything that I will experience, thats about as far outside of my comfort zone as I can  think to get! Not only will I be traveling to a foreign country alone for the first time, I will also be working to improve my language skills. I will be learning and practicing French in the best way possible; Immersion. This trip will give me a chance to grow my “second soul”, to improve my French, and to learn to connect with new people in a way I never have before; In another language.

Sydney Serrano is a freshman studying Psychology and French at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Sydney will spend the summer abroad with the UMKC French Summer Program in Lyon, France. Sydney is a member of Alternative Spring Break and Pride Alliance at the University of Missouri Kansas.

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

Euro France 2016 & FanZone

I have been so lucky to be in France during the Euro France 2016 soccer tournament.  Not only am I a huge soccer fan but the energy here in Lyon with all the fans from all over the world has made the city really come alive.

During this tournament I have met people from Portugal, Algeria, Iceland, Poland, Northern Ireland, Ireland, Australia, Belgium, Wales, Germany and France.  All are fans who have came here to Lyon to watch a the matches in FanZone.  But what is FanZone?  FanZone can really only be experienced not explained.  But I will do my best….

In Lyon, FanZone was but up in Place Bellecour.  This is the largest square in Lyon and the third largest in France at 15 acres.  It truly is a beautiful space.  But for one month, June 10th til July 10th, it has been transformed to the meeting place of European Football Fans.  Every day there is singing, dancing, music, food, booze and all kinds of shenanigans occurring in around the square.  On the first day of FanZone while walking through Place Bellecour on my way to a class trip to a museum, I met a group of Belg fans.  I had to take a break to video them as the all chanted in the streets.  As I chanted, one fan came real close into my phone screen, singing their song, then he decided to mark my face for the Belg.  I was instantly made a Belg supporter.  And this was all the fans throughout the whole time FanZone and UEFA Euro2016 has taken place.  There has been so much oped fun shared by all.

Day one of FanZone
Day one of FanZone
Place Bellecour FanZone

I must admit, the Northern Irish were my favorite fans.  I had the privilege of meeting about 13 of them and they immediately stole my heart with their kindness, sense of humor, accents and brandishing good looks!  lol but seriously they were such a fun and nice group of fans and they have so much team spirit!

I’m really not sure what Lyon is like without FanZone and thousands of soccer fans and I’m okay with that.  Being in France for the tournament has been a once in a lifetime opportunity.  I have taken so many photos with random people I have met, and had them grab me to join them for photos.  I don’t know most any of their names, but it’s cool to think that I have left my footprints all over Europe with my interactions and photos with these fans.

French FansFanZone FansNorthern Irish Fan



Public transportation Pros and Cons

Initially I loved the public transportation in Lyon.  I had one bus (#40) to take me from just down the road from my house, to really close to the school.  After that, it was just about a 12 minute walk to the campus.  But all things can’t always be so easy.

The Euro2016 tournament came in like a flood with lots of amazing people from all over Europe.  But with this magnitude of tourists in the town, the city changed the bus line system.  Now, I must take 2 buses and a tram to school.  I leave about an hour in advance, and I’m still often late.  Not because it is not ample enough time, but because buses will often just not show up…or are very late.

Also, the evening route on how to get home is always changing.  From day to day I never know, when is the last bus, will it show, or which stop I have to get to in order to catch the bus.

It’s not just me.  I have learned an assortment of lets say, “colorful” words from sitting at the bus stop.  These words often fly by me once a local french person realizes the bus is not coming or we have to go to a bus stop miles away, get there in ten minutes and catch the last bus!  This has happened more than once.

How I feel each time the buses change
How I feel each time the buses change

I have been lucky that many people have helped me navigate in these times.  I have even shared a cab with a group of Germans who also needed to go to my area, gotten rides from random groups of locals and ran to the next stop with a flood of other people…all trying to catch the bus!

All these problems has forced me to become really independent and learn the bus, tram and metro lines of the city.  My host family has been very impressed by my ability to navigate the city and get home at these times without having to call on them.

Before living in Lyon, I never used public transportation.  I have now gained a serious appreciation for it, and also, an awful detest for it!  Part of me cannot wait to get home and drive again.  The other part of me is dreading having to.  I do believe though, being a city of Lyon bus driver is the only job that you can have multiple deadlines each day, miss them all and still keep your job.

A Second Once in a Lifetime Experience

I’m currently writing this in a floral-print journal— representing the roos with my trusty UMKC Women’s Center pen— while in the company of about one hundred strangers: some snoozing, some picking at the remnants of what could charitably be called airplane “food,” listening to music, or swiping pages on glowing e-readers. I’m some hundreds of thousands of feet in the air, and keep having flashbacks to that Bridesmaids scene where a frantic Kristen Wiig swears that a colonial woman is churning butter on the airplane wing. It’s five hours until I arrive in Paris at 6:56 AM ready to board a train to Lyon, France, where I will study for the next weeks, and armed with a strong French coffee (très grand, s’il vous plaît) to fight off the jet lag. But until then, hundreds of thousands of feet in the air is a pretty good place to reflect.


The memories of last summer, when I traveled to Lyon for the first time, still cling vibrantly to every corner of my mind. I remember the fabulous art museums, the breath-taking ruins, the weekend excursions— from the top of the Eiffel Tower to the bottom of a lake in which I kayaked— to the flaky croissants (although I’m against most cultural stereotypes, please, please, preserve this one), and all the while, the knowledge that my French— the language I’ve been studying since sixth grade— was rapidly improving. With every picture I posted and blog post I wrote and shared, people echoed the sentiment “What a once and a lifetime opportunity!”

I doubt they were surprised that I couldn’t get Lyon— and the overall, beautifully unique French culture— out of my head. I doubt they were surprised that my Facebook statue, a shot of me in front of the iconic “Only Lyon,” statue, stayed unchanged for months. However, I surprised a lot of people, and maybe even myself, when I became unfalteringly determined to make a second summer in Lyon a reality.

The truth is, this “once in a lifetime” experience taught me many valuable lessons, ones that bare repeating and reliving. Going to France and living with a host family for six weeks endowed me with much needed confidence and independence. Yes, that sounds vague and cliché. Yet perhaps this confidence and independence reaffirmed itself today when I confidently boarded an international flight on my own, when the crowded airport and bustling security lines seemed just as clear and easy to navigate as any weathered map. Despite my roles as an Honors student and writing tutor, as well as my yearning to be a professor— translation: I love traditional, classroom instruction— as long as I urgently desire to keep learning, I’ll continue to believe that travel remains the best means through which to do it.

Coming Home: Culture Shock Part Two

Even though I’ve lived in America my whole life, it’s still weird to come back after being in France for two months. I will definitely miss France and my host family, but it is nice to be back home. I also miss the French life style: taking public transportation and walking everywhere, eating dinner with my host family, reading the “Direct Matain” newspaper. My Family has already gotten tired of my stories about France. While I was in France I had a bunch of American friends to talk to who understood French culture and American culture. Now that I’m back in the states, there aren’t many people who understand French culture. So there is no one who gets my jokes in French or understands the difficulty of not being able to think of a word in English. There are also certain habits that I picked up in France, like doing the air kisses on the cheeks to greet people, like. It will definitely take me a while to get used to handshakes and hugs again.

Direct Matin Newspaper

Direct Matin Newspaper

Studying a foreign culture is one thing, but experiencing it firsthand is completely different. I learned several things from my study abroad experience. It’s important to know at least a little bit about the culture of the area that you’re traveling to. At the same time it’s impossible to know everything about a foreign culture it’s also good to try to assimilate once you get there. Another thing is that pronunciation is extremely important. There were a few times where I knew what I was trying to say, but I didn’t know how to pronounce it so the other person didn’t understand me. Surprisingly, the most difficult words to pronounce with a French accent were English brand names. For example every time I tried to order a Sprite at a restaurant, the waiter had trouble understanding what I was asking for.

The classes at the French university weren’t too difficult but what made them challenging was the fact that the teaching styles and grading systems in France are different than they are in the U.S. so it can be difficult to figure out what the professors expect from the students. Communication with the French people was difficult but not in the way I thought it would be. I got really good at describing something when I didn’t know the word for it. However lack of vocabulary wasn’t the main issue. What was even more difficult was trying to express a saying or phrase that doesn’t exist in French. I often had to use creative thinking to get my point across. When learning a foreign language, there are some words and expressions that are very difficult to understand until you heard native speakers use them several times. I learned several new words, phrases, and expressions while I was in France. Overall I think my French improved significantly during the study abroad program and I have a better understanding and appreciation for the French people and culture.


Map of Lyon
Map of Lyon

I don’t think I’m in France Anymore

The university I’m at, UniversitĂ© Lumière Lyon 2, offers some weekend trips for the students to go on. This semester they offered three different ones and one of them was a day trip to Annecy.

I had been to Annecy before (with my parents) so here’s a throwback to that time:

My father, cousin and brother
My father, cousin and brother

As you can all see, it was .. well kind of cold!

But here I had the opportunity to see this beautiful city once again but without the cold weather, of course I was going to take it.

Actually, this French city used to be an Italian city.
Actually, this French city used to be an Italian city.

And there I am in the same place where my father was but with the sun and really good weather. He was so jealous!

We actually did learn something during our short amount of time there. The city used to be an Italian city and that is why it has more of an Italian city vibe (they call it the little Venice) than an actual French city. Most of the architecture there is Italian. But another cool thing is that if you cross the lake (it’s a really big lake), you’ll probably end up in Genève! This is why I love Europe!

That day we had a little tour of the city and then were able to jump into the lake and swim, which with the hot weather was a blessing to us. Annecy

People actually swim in the river and it is the most amazing river i've ever been in.
People actually swim in the lake and it is the most amazing lake I’ve ever been in

By the end of the day, I was tanner and tired and ready to go back “home.” I don’t think I’m ready to go back home-home just yet, but I think I will be soon enough.

A bientĂ´t,



A French Independence Day

My friends and I tried really hard to have a traditional American Fourth of July. That means BBQ, red white and blue, fireworks, water melon and all the other delicious and spirited things we do back home.

Here is how how our day went:

1. Went to the Market in Croix-Rouss, got some chicken and potatoes, watermelon, other fruits, etc. had a picnic with a view. Wore red white and blue.

image image


2. We went to a puppet show, Lyon is famous for their puppets. It was very cute and interesting! Lots of little children there, I wish I would have gone to puppet shows as a kid.








3. Went to the river and relaxed with friends then met some French boys and went to some fun clubs and experienced a townie night out in Lyon.









…no fireworks, no USA chants, but it was a very eventful day and we did our best to represent our country! All-in-all it was a memorable fourth.

Public Transportation

I come from a pretty small town. Public transportation doesn’t really exist. Moving to Kansas City for school was pretty interesting, I took the bus a few times to get to school and make my way around town but I’ve never been limited to the use of Public Transportation ever before in my life. Until now.

To get around in Lyon there’s the metro, the tram, a bike, or walking. I have seen many people riding push and electric scooters as well!! But having to plan most of my travels around public transportation has been tricky.

My advice for anyone who has to be dependent on public transportation is to: PAY ATTENTION!

For example, one night there was a movie in the park that many of the students were going to attend. My friend Lilly and I traveled there together, it was quite a ways on the metro but not a complicated route at all.

The movie ended at 12:10am and the last metro was at 12:30am. We rushed to the metro and got on. We started talking to one lady and she asked us where we were going, “Bellecoure” we answered. Then she gave us a worried look and said we were on the wrong metro going in the opposite direction of Bellecoure.

Lilly and I get off at the next stop, now further away from home. We ran to the other metro but by then it was 12:31 and the metro was over until 5 or 6am. So we decided to walk. It was about an hour walk to get home. And about a mile into the walk we had the brilliant idea to get bikes! We rented a bike and were able to get home by 1:10am!

Public transportation can be a pain and a life saver. Pay attention to details and always have a back up plan.