Study Abroad Fair kicks off in Kirkhof


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Kay Keller, Staff Writer

The Study Abroad Fair is returning to Grand Valley State University in a new combination of online and in-person sessions. Instead of being a massive one-day event, the fair will be over a dozen events in the span of two weeks.

The fair will start with a kickoff event on Nov. 1 in the Grand River Room in Kirkhof from noon to 4 p.m. There will be food, music, a booth for free passport photos and around 20 tables. The tables will feature faculty-led programs, partnerships and even external programs that students can explore.

“We’re going to start off with an in-person event,” said Study Abroad Advisor Meaghann Myers-Smith. “Study abroad is a very personal thing and it’s a very individual thing. It’s not a one size fits all program.”

After the kickoff event, there will be a variety of information sessions hosted both online and in-person. The virtual events are one-hour sessions that run multiple times a day so that students will be able to attend.

With international travel being off-limits for such a long period of time due to COVID-19, GVSU has just started sending students abroad this semester.

According to Myers-Smith, there are nine students abroad this semester and about 30 for the winter semester. They hope to have more students enrolled for the summer semester.

COVID-19 is still a looming issue. As a result, some countries will be unavailable for students to travel to. Countries that are rated at a level four by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are not allowing tourists. The level four countries currently include Norway, Switzerland, Thailand, Greece and dozens of others. 

This year, on top of the regular study abroad applications, students will have to apply for an appeal. The appeal process is just a way for the university to help students understand the COVID-19 guidelines for the country they are planning to go to. They would discuss quarantine plans, vaccination requirements, and what happens in case of another large-scale wave.

COVID-19 has also been an issue for students that have graduated in the past year or will be this year. These students have been unable to take advantage of the study abroad programs offered by GVSU.

“For students that are in (that) position, I do encourage them to connect with the Office of Fellowships because they have great information on international opportunities in your post-graduate years,” Myers-Smith said.

Studying abroad is an expensive event, but GVSU has several scholarships to help students fund their studies. There will be a funding booth at the kickoff event for students to learn about their options.

The Padnos International Center has a few scholarships that students can apply for, each with different requirements and time spent abroad. For students going abroad for the full academic year, there is the Padnos International scholarship, which gives students $5,000-$15,000 a year. This is a scholarship that is awarded to multiple students, yet not many apply for it according to Myers-Smith.

All of the different information sessions can be found on the GVSU events page or on the Padnos International Center website. Study abroad programs are hoping to be in full swing again this year and are hoping that the world remains open.