Annual Study Abroad Fair encourages worldly experience

<p>A representative showing students information about travelling at the Study Abroad Fair in Kirkhof Center on October 9th, 2018. GVL / Emily Modloff</p>

A representative showing students information about travelling at the Study Abroad Fair in Kirkhof Center on October 9th, 2018. GVL / Emily Modloff

Shiloh Reynolds

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The Padnos International Center hosted its annual Study Abroad Fair on Tuesday, Oct. 9 in order to provide students with knowledge about the many international educational opportunities available to them.

The fair was held in the Grand River Room of the Kirkhof Center and lasted from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Study Abroad Outreach Coordinator Alissa Lane said she estimated that over 1,200 students were in attendance, most of which were likely undergraduates. 

“We had 1,000 bags (for students to put program flyers in) and we ran out of them within the first two hours,” Lane said.

Freshman Sarah Corder attended the fair in the morning and said that she wanted to check it out to learn more about the different programs available for her major. 

“Study abroad sounded really cool, but I had no idea where I would want to go or what would relate to my psychology major,” Corder said. “At the fair, they basically said I could go anywhere. It’s good that it can be so broad and not limited.”

Freshman Jennifer Wloszek, who is minoring in Spanish, had similar intentions. 

“I wanted to figure out where I wanted to study,” Wloszek said. “Before, I was mostly just interested in Spain, and now there’s a lot of options I didn’t know existed until now. Now I’m looking at other Spanish-speaking countries.”

Lane said that GVSU is consistently ranked in the top ten in the nation for study abroad participation at the master’s level by the Institute of International Education, and over 800 GVSU students choose to study abroad each year. Besides the over 60 GVSU study abroad programs available to choose from, the Padnos International Center also helps students get involved with affiliate programs and international internships. 

“We like to let students know they are not just limited by what is shown in the catalog,” Lane said. “You can literally go anywhere. As a Laker, you have so many options.”

The Study Abroad Fair represented all of GVSU’s study abroad programs, as well as some unaffiliated study abroad options. Each country’s booth was staffed by either faculty who had led a program abroad, students or alumni who had previously studied in the country. Also present were people from GVSU’s partner universities and international students studying on campus. 

GVSU student Taylor Scherman served as a representative for the Ghana booth. She said she had spent time last summer studying in the country and wanted to help out at the fair to share her experience with others, and advocate for studying abroad.

“Traveling is important because it breaks down barriers and allows you to see the good in humanity and different perspectives,” she said. 

Scherman said she is scheduled to graduate early in December as a result of credits gained through her study abroad experiences.

The preparation for the fair was extensive and took several months, according to Lane. Study Abroad Adviser Meaghann Myers-Smith was largely responsible for many logistics of the fair, although other staff and peer advisers at the Padnos International Center also contributed. As Outreach Coordinator, Lane was in charge of getting the word out to students by way of social media and promotional flyers.

Lane spent time studying abroad herself during college in the United Kingdom, China and the Czech Republic, and said that she hopes to be able to help current students have similar international educational experiences.

“(Studying abroad) was the best experience of my time in college,” Lane said. “There’re not a lot of other chances to live in a different country and see the world. I think other people should try to take advantage of it as well. I think the study abroad fair serves as a good place to get excited about the possibilities.”