Study Abroad Fair

Monique Smith, Staff Writer

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On Wednesday, Sept. 20, the annual Study Abroad Fair took place in the Maucker Union Ballroom. The event started at 11 a.m. and finished at 3 p.m.

The Study Abroad Center organized the fair to educate the students of UNI about the opportunities available to them and to encourage more students to take the chance to see the world.

“Our goal is to increase awareness about international opportunities for students. We wanted to showcase the different options that students have and all the locations for our programs,” said Stephanie Rojas, student support specialist for the Study Abroad Center.

Students can study abroad at any point in their academic career, and there are programs in 30 countries. 80 percent of programs offer courses in English, and there are scholarships available to help students cover the costs associated with studying overseas.

The programs vary in length, and students can either study for a whole academic year or one semester if they are interested in a lengthier experience. However, they can also go on instructor-led trips or take summer courses if they want a shorter-term experience.

Paula Van Zee is the director of the Study Abroad Center and she believes the Study Abroad Fair is important because many students are unaware of the different programs available for studying overseas.

“Not many students know that they can actually study abroad for a year, a semester or do a short-term program, and take the courses that they normally would take here, and still graduate on time,” Van Zee said.

According to Van Zee, studying abroad has many benefits for students.

“There have been a lot of studies that say students come back from studying abroad more mature, and their GPA actually increases,” Van Zee said. “When you’re graduating, you’re competing with so many students, so if you put in your resume that you’ve been abroad, it’ll make you stand out from the crowd.”

The Study Abroad Fair offered students the chance to talk with past study abroad students, as well as course leaders and Study Abroad staff.

This allowed them to hear honest accounts of what studying in another country is like and offered them the chance to look at all of the different programs available. Current exchange students were also at the fair to answer any questions UNI students had about their home universities and home countries.

Elena Rasmussen is a social work major in her senior year at UNI. She completed a semester in Australia and said she would highly recommend studying abroad to any UNI student.

“I loved being in a different culture and meeting new people in different countries,” Rasmussen said. “I also loved traveling a whole bunch while I was there.”

Reumina Cufurovic is a senior biology major who also studied abroad in Australia.

“I’d never traveled alone, and it’s really easy to travel within Australia,” Cufurovic said. “I would definitely recommend other people go. Everything about the experience was just different.”

The Study Abroad Fair allowed students to explore their many international learning options. Students who attended the fair could also enter a competition to win a scholarship of $500, $750 or $1000 to be used for their study abroad experience. One of the biggest services offered at the fair was the opportunity for students to apply for or renew their passports, with the help of representatives from the Black Hawk County Recorder’s Office.

“We try to do as much as we can for the students,” Van Zee said. “A lot of our students from UNI have never traveled outside the United States, and some of them have never even left Iowa. So, preparing them and making them feel comfortable is something that we do.”

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