Growing abroad

GVL / Laine Girard
Amanda Furstenburg handing out information to students interested in Studying Abroad in Italy.

Laine Girard

GVL / Laine Girard Amanda Furstenburg handing out information to students interested in Studying Abroad in Italy.

Ellie Phillips

GVSU Study Abroad adds new partnershipsMore than 1,000 students attended Grand Valley State University’s annual Study Abroad Fair, which was hosted by the Padnos International Center in the Grand River Room of the Kirkhof Center on Tuesday.

Representatives from 70 study abroad partnerships and related programs provided information to the attendees, whose turnout exceeded the expected number of people who usually attend.

“It grows every year,” said Meaghann Myers-Smith, study abroad adviser at the PIC. “Today, the people never stopped coming.”

Students looking to study abroad this year got to check out the four new partnerships from five different countries: India, Austria, France, Ecuador and Switzerland.

The partnership with Austria and Switzerland is an engineering program that has already connected three GVSU students with business opportunities and paid internships with well-known international companies, including Bosch Engineering and Schaeffer Oil. This trip is open to students in the Seymour and Esther Padnos College of Engineering and Computing who have a GPA of at least 2.7. Languages of instruction are German and English.

“These countries are very well known for technology and suited for engineers and computer science majors,” said Joe Iannelli, director of the School of Engineering at GVSU. “Students gain substantial overseas and professional experience they can use here in West Michigan, which has 50 multi-national German corporations.”

The pre-existing partnership with India is supplemented by the new spirituality program focusing on service projects in Central and Northern India, specifically Delhi, Varanasi and Ladakh. The program is open to all students with at least a 2.5 GPA and is taught in English.

“India is very different, the culture is very different, and for students who like to go out of their bubble, this is the place they have to go,” said Sunny Luke, representative from the India partnership and program director for the International Institute for Scientific and Academic Collaboration. “India is a place for them to experience something different.”

GVSU also has partnerships with France and an ecology and conservation effort in Ecuador.

The university offers four different categories of study-abroad programs: faculty-led programs, internship programs, GVSU partnership programs and non-GVSU programs. The faculty-led programs typically last from two to eight weeks during the spring and summer semesters and involve traveling and learning from a GVSU instructor. Internship programs, also offered in the summer, help students gain professional experience in locations like London, Madrid, Dublin and Paris.

Partnership programs take students all over the world, giving them the opportunity to learn at their chosen institution abroad for a summer, a semester or a whole year.

Non-GVSU programs are sponsored by another institution or study abroad organization. GVSU allows students to participate in these programs, and gives them GVSU credit for their classes and experience.

A booth supporting nontraditional students interested in studying abroad was also at the fair.

“I was a nontraditional student,” said Angela Smith, the representative for the program. “I’m a mom and an older student, and I didn’t know there were programs I could participate in, that I could go abroad for six weeks instead of four months.”

As well as regular GVSU financial aid awards, the PIC offers seven primary grants and scholarships to help pay for study abroad experiences. There are also “Funding 101” workshops to help students determine the cost of their trip and potential funding sources. These workshops typically take place the last Thursday of every month.

The travel health booth helped connect students with the Family Health Clinic in Grand Rapids, which offers immunizations by appointment. These are vital to many students studying abroad, as some countries require individuals to have certain immunizations before entering the country.

Many students left the room with a bag full of information packets, small gifts and wanderlust.

“At first I just wanted to leave the country,” said GVSU student DeMante Baldwin. “But now I really want to go to Japan.”

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