Study abroad open house offers insight

Students attend CEEL’s study abroad open house event in the science east hallway on the second floor. Vanguard Photographer | Audrey Bergey

The Center for Community Engagement and Experiential Learning hosted a study abroad open house Thursday afternoon. The event aimed to bring interested students together and inform them about what studying abroad can offer them.

Riley Hupfer is the director of the Center for Community Engagement and Experiential Learning. He studied abroad as an SVSU student in 2015 and wanted to share his experiences and encourage students to create their own.

“We hope that students visiting the Study Abroad office have an opportunity to meet our staff, see our new space and explore the many opportunities to study abroad,” he said.

Hupfer said that he plans to assist those who are planning on studying abroad.

“The Open House is our first event of the year, but we look forward to supporting students and faculty-led trip leaders as they plan their experiences abroad throughout the academic year and beyond.”

Jonathan Zink is the development and design coordinator for the Center for Community Engagement and was involved in planning and executing the open house. He said that the event gave students a chance to meet with the various trip providers that SVSU partners with.

It also gave students a chance to see the many countries and cultures they can explore. He also said that the Center for Community Engagement has been wonderful to work with and he has gained several skills to help him professionally.

“I will be graduating in the fall, and it has been one of the best experiences of my life professionally to not only utilize the necessary skills in design that I have learned in my education but to be part of a larger team and work together on exciting new things to bring to the students of SVSU,” Zink said.

Studying abroad has been a difficult decision for many students considering the ongoing pandemic. Zink said that the health and safety of students choosing to study abroad is always a priority and that studying abroad would not be offered to students if it was not safe.

“Safety is our number one priority with traveling internationally as COVID-19 continues to greatly impact much of the world, so being on top of new regulations and restrictions as they go into effect guides our plans for our upcoming trips,” Zink said.

Joseph Messana is a biology junior who expressed interest in the event and chose to attend. He said that he plans to become a dentist and that studying abroad could provide him with a new perspective on global practices of dentistry as well as the cultures of the world.

“I wasn’t very interested in going on a trip, but I was open to having my mind changed,” he said. “Now I’m actually thinking about it.”

Messana said the most fascinating aspect was the community service aspect of studying abroad.

“I think it’s really cool how you can help people with what you’re trying to study and learn about the field that you’re going into,” he said.

Messana also said that seeing a cool part of the world at the same time was the cherry on top.

Career wise, Messana said that he feels studying abroad would look good on a resume when applying for dental school, and that dentistry has a great deal of diversity when it comes to hygiene in different parts of the world.

Savannah Bruske is a biology senior attended the event hoping to find a program that focused on health.

She said that she was particularly interested in a trip to Zambia that was geared toward nursing students. She said studying abroad could offer numerous benefits as a pre physician assistant student.

“I’d learn to see how health care works in other areas,” said Bruske. “I haven’t really had any experience other than Saginaw, Michigan, so seeing it elsewhere would give me a different perspective.”

When it comes to the pandemic, Bruske said that it would not be a major concern for her studying abroad.

“I’m vaccinated so I’m not worried about it,” she said. “I would hope that [Zambia] has enough access to healthcare to willingly let us come. The way I see it, as long as they feel safe letting us come there then I feel pretty comfortable going.”

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