Tour the world at the Study Abroad Fair


Alissa Lane Representatives from GVSU’s partner university in Ghana, University of Cape Coast, talk to students at the Study Abroad Fair (2015) COURTESY \ GVSU

Ysabela Golden, Laker Life Editor

“Traveling to a different country is a great way to learn about different cultures and people around the world,” said Hypatia Swanson, a student on the study abroad peer advising team at Grand Valley State University’s Padnos International Center. “The Study Abroad Fair is a great first step into that experience.”

The annual Study Abroad Fair is the center’s biggest event of the year, built to be a comprehensive introduction to study abroad possibilities even for a student who hasn’t given the subject much thought. The fair lasts from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 15.

“If you have any interest whatsoever in doing this, the Study Abroad Fair is the place to start,” said Outreach Coordinator of Padnos International Center Alissa Lane. “You don’t have to stay the entire time — I’ve described it as a lot like Campus Life Night but for study abroad. There is so much excitement and energy in that room, it’s absolutely electric. It’s also a great one stop shop for students to check out instead of going to our different informational sessions. You get everything in one room.” 

The fair has a lot of opportunities to learn about studying abroad that you can’t pick up from a general information session, from getting to meet with the directors who travel with students on summer faculty-led programs, to talking one-on-one with people from the countries students can travel to.

“It’s one thing to read about these places in a catalog or on a website, it’s another to talk about them with someone who’s actually been there,” Lane said. “You get to meet representatives from our partner universities at the Cracow University of Economics in Poland and the University of Cape Coast in Ghana, who are coming to the event, as well as international students from our partners abroad. It’s exciting for students who haven’t gone, but it’s also exciting for students who have gone abroad or had international experiences to share that experience with others — that’s part of why we get so many volunteers for this event.”

Though the size of the event might initially feel overwhelming to visitors not sure what to check out, the Padnos staff at the welcome desk are happy to give directions to newcomers. 

“One table people want to make sure they don’t miss is the scholarship and financial aid table,” Lane said. “We offer a quarter million dollars in scholarships every year. One that’s important for students to know about is the Gilman scholarship, which is a nationally competitive award that goes up to $7,000 and that a lot of Grand Valley students receive. One that I like to highlight for people is the Padnos scholarship, which goes up to $15,000. We give out eight every year, its for students who go abroad for a full two semesters — I think students get intimidated to go abroad for a longer period of time, but the scholarship is such a great thing to take advantage of, it often covers the whole cost.”

Other tables to look out for are those for GVSU affiliate programs, which can offer students a lot of variety in the programs they offer, as well as the major/minor advice table.

“It’s just really bringing the world to GVSU in a lot of ways,” Lane said. “You have a lot of great conversations with people who’ve been all over the world, are from all over the world. I would be amazed if anyone walks out of that door not ready to jump on a plane and go somewhere new.”