By Gabrielle Beacken
Crowds of curious students filled Alumni Grove the morning of Wednesday, Sept. 11, to attend the College’s Study Abroad Fair.
With over 15 information booths, students’ questions were answered with the abundance of guidebooks, brochures, posters, flyers and more. The event was sponsored by the College’s Center for Global Engagement, and students were able to meet directors from different study abroad programs.
Upperclassmen who have already studied abroad were able to provide underclassman with advice and feedback.
“You learn about yourself and about other cultures,” senior Spanish major Danielle Hungerbuhler said. “Something you would never get from reading a book.”
Hungerbuhler, a peer advisor for the College’s Center for Global Engagement, studied abroad in Chile last fall and emphasized the importance of studying abroad, especially for strengthening language skills.
“I learned more there one semester than all four years,” senior self-design major Shea DeBrito said of her study abroad experience. DeBrito, a fellow peer advisor, not only increased her own academic capabilities, but she created unforgettable memories as well. Hungerbuhler and DeBrito took a five-day backpacking trip to Latin America together.
“It was really an incredible experience,” Hungerbuhler said.
Other students hope to have similar experiences.
“I just really want to go to London,” freshman elementary education and mathematics, science and technology double major Marissa Capiobianco said. “I’ve always dreamed about it.”
Students also travel to learn about their families’ heritages. Mathematics and secondary education double major Kaitlin Blume hopes to travel to Europe because of her grandparents’ stories of their life in Germany.
The International Studies Abroad (ISA) and Globalinks Learning Abroad offer abroad opportunities for students with all reasons during the spring, winter, fall and summer semesters. ISA University relations representative Alvaro Rojas-Caamano believes in the core infrastructure of ISA. As students study abroad, ISA provides support, security and health services, as well as trips, which encourage students to immerse themselves in their host country’s culture.
Studying abroad also allows students to gain new insights into American culture.
“As an undergraduate, I studied abroad in Reading, England, 20 minutes outside of London,” Rojas-Caamano said. “I was there during the 2004 election. It was very interesting to see from their perspective.”
Rojas-Caamano also noted that every major is somehow connected to other academics around the world.
“What’s the point of being academic if you can’t learn from other academics?” Rojas-Caamano said.
Fellow ISA representative Sara Mardanbigi stressed the value of studying abroad. Since less than 2 percent of undergraduates study abroad, according to ISA, students who do study abroad have an advantage.
“Studying abroad increases global awareness and patience. You gain a lot of valuable, transferrable skills: adaptability and flexibility,” Mardanbigi said.
Study abroad programs do not only offer courses in the host country’s universities. Internships are offered as well.
“All internships are very hands on,” Globalinks Learning Abroad International program specialist Colleen Murphy said. “These are great companies that want to build students’ futures. They will challenge them.”
Students don’t need to look far to find the College’s sponsored study abroad programs. Mary Lynn Hopps, women’s and gender studies professor and director of WILL, is leading the College’s winter session to New Orleans. Regardless of where students decide to go and what academic subject they choose to study, they are up for the challenge and adventure.
“Students first read the text,” Hopps said. “Then they learn to walk the walk.”