Study abroad fair to educate students

The Study Abroad Office is hosting its fall study abroad fair Thursday, Sept. 12, at noon.

The fair has previously been held in Groening Commons but has been moved to Gilbertson Hall due to ongoing construction of the new college of business.

Aileen Ash, the study abroad coordinator, said 11 program providers will attend the fair, including Athena, USAC and ISA.

Faculty members leading program-specific trips will be available, as well as several campus organizations with international focuses.

Ash hopes to maintain their usual attendance of about 250 students and to continue facilitating inter-office interactions.

“My favorite part of the fair is facilitating connections between my office, faculty, study abroad providers, study abroad alumni and prospective education abroad students,” she said.

She explained that planning starts much earlier in the year, usually about April or May. She and peer advisers then spend the start of the fall semester spreading the word.

In addition to providing information to students looking to study abroad, the fair offers a raffle. Ten students will win passports, each worth $160.

“(It’s) really exciting to see students take the first step toward international travel,” she said.

Ash said that many students believe studying abroad isn’t an option for them, so she hopes the fair will clear up misconceptions.

“For example, some students think they can’t study abroad because they don’t know a second language,” she said. “However, all the programs we work with offer classes taught in English.”

Pedro Baccarin, a peer adviser in the Study Abroad Office, said students also commonly believe that they can’t travel because it’s too expensive or there isn’t a program for their major.

Ash shared the benefits of traveling and explained how important it is for students to experience other cultures.

“Studying abroad promotes global citizenship and personal and professional development, diversifies a student’s cultural understanding and gives graduates a competitive edge when looking for a job,” she said.

Baccarin expressed similar thoughts. “Studying abroad isn’t a vacation,” he said. “It’s not going to be like any other trip. Studying abroad is a gateway to a whole new mindset. It will make you understand how the world is really a small place and how important it is to have an international experience both for personal reasons as well as for professional reasons.”

Ash added that many students think they can’t afford to travel and pass up the opportunity.

“Go now, while you can use financial aid, have access to scholarships and have the time to travel and live abroad,” she said.

Ash and Baccarin both suggested that hesitant students visit the Study Abroad Office for help breaking down the process of going abroad.

Appointments can be scheduled by emailing, and additional information can be found at:

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