Traveling the world with study abroad

The Study Abroad Center offers both long and short-term programs in over 25 countries, according to their website.


On Wednesday, Sept. 19, the Study Abroad Center will conduct its biggest recruiting event, the Study Abroad Fair. The event will be held at the Old Central Ballroom in Maucker Union from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Fair attendees will be able to find tables representing both UNI’s short-term and long-term study abroad programs.

Paula VanZee, director of the Study Abroad Center, recommends that students who come to the fair think about where they want to travel and then visit the tables featuring that location. Students should ask the people at those tables about options for their major in that particular location.

“Usually we tell students that when you go abroad, it’s such a big change,” VanZee said. “We want you to learn about another culture. We want you to get immersed. We want you to learn all that. We usually tell students ‘Try not to take all your major courses abroad.’ If you’re gonna take major courses, try to take one major course, maybe two, but then try to take elective courses as well.”

VanZee also encourages students to think about how long they would like to study abroad. Long-term programs can be for the duration of a semester, a summer or an entire year. Short-term programs — the more popular option, according to VanZee — are typically two to four weeks long. During short-term programs, students travel with a faculty member and 15 to 20 fellow students. Often times, these are capstone courses. Some of the faculty members leading these programs will be managing tables at the fair.

“A lot of times students think that ‘Oh, I don’t wanna go. I’m just starting to get used to the UNI campus,’” VanZee said. “In those cases, we usually gear students toward the program where you travel with a group — the faculty-led programs. We encourage students to come, just to learn about options and decide maybe yes, maybe it is for me.”

Students can study abroad as early as their second semester at UNI. VanZee also wanted students to know that they can apply their financial aid to study abroad programs, which are not as expensive as they might think.

Student employees and full-time staff from the Study Abroad Center, all of whom have studied abroad themselves, will be managing some of the tables at the fair. Other tables will be managed by past study abroad participants. This is one of the requirements for students who receive a Study Abroad Center-sponsored scholarship.

The fair will feature several newer programs, including capstones to Ghana, Uganda, Sweden, Peru, Colombia, Panama and Japan. Due to a high demand for programs in Greece, Study Abroad will be offering two programs in Greece for the first time, both for College of Business students. This December will also be the first time ever that Study Abroad will offer a capstone in Spain over winter break. However, since this program is already full, it will not be featured in the fair.

Florence University of the Arts (FUA) and Veritas University, two of UNI’s partner universities, will also be present.

“We encourage students to start planning very early on, because the earlier you plan, the better options that you can get good courses abroad,” VanZee said. “And the idea is for you to still graduate on time — in your four years. So the earlier you come and plan it within your four years, you should still be able to graduate on time.”

The Black Hawk County Recorder’s Office will be at the fair to help people renew their passports. This is open not only to students, but also faculty members and the public.

For those planning to renew their passports, there are additional documents they will need to bring. For exact requirements, check the UNI Study Abroad Center’s website.