Why We Travel: A Writing Contest

Academic Year 2019–20

Study Abroad is pleased to announce the 12th annual “Why We Travel” Contest, a writing contest for UChicago College students who have completed or are completing a study abroad program. This contest was established in recognition of all the great student writing influenced by time abroad.

We accept works of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, as well as any other works of writing that your time abroad has inspired you to create. Experiences abroad are myriad, and we are seeking writing that reflects this. You are encouraged to submit a piece that best fits your experience and expresses how your time abroad shocked, delighted, awed, challenged, or changed you.

Send submissions to StudyAbroadCommunications@uchicago.edu. The deadline for the 2019–20 contest is Monday, May 11, 2020 (extended by one week).

Not sure what to write about? Here are a few suggestions to get you started. (Remember that you are free to write in any genre you wish.)

  • Tell us about the day you will most remember from your time abroad.
  • Introduce us to people you met while studying abroad (your host family, language partners, fellow travelers, etc.).
  • Describe your sensory experience of a place you visited while studying abroad.
  • What is something you learned about yourself or others through your study abroad experience?
  • How have your travels changed your perspective on an issue?


Study Abroad will award up to three prizes.

  • First Prize: $200
  • Second Prize: $150
  • Third Prize: $100


To take part in this contest you must be a University of Chicago undergraduate student. Your submission must be about an experience that took place at a location outside of the United States for a minimum duration of 8 weeks. All study abroad experiences through the University of Chicago, one of its partner programs, or a College travel grant (FLAG, Research Grants) are eligible.

Please follow all formatting rules (see below). Failure to do so will render your submission ineligible.

If you are unsure of your eligibility, please email StudyAbroadCommunications@uchicago.edu.


By entering this contest, your submission becomes the property of the College of the University of Chicago, which will enjoy full rights of use and circulation (with attribution to the author). If you submit to this contest, it is understood that you have granted this right.


Writing pieces should be submitted in Microsoft Word Document format or in rich-text format (RTF) and must not exceed 16 pages double-spaced in length. Please use standard text size (12 point) and standard margins (1 to 1.5 inches). Send in your submission by attaching the document to your submission email. In your email, please include the following:

  1. “Travel Writing Contest” in the subject line
  2. Your name, student ID, and year in the College
  3. Your desired published name
  4. Where and when you went abroad and for how long (please also indicate if it was through a Chicago-sponsored program)
  5. A title for and short explanation of your submission
  6. If your piece has already been published elsewhere, please let us know.

For photo essay submissions: Photographs must be sent digitally at a minimum resolution of 300 dpi. Please also include detailed location information for each photograph.

2019–20 Prize-Winning Submissions