Photo By Beth Pahl
Isabele Cintal a junior and Heather Leach a sophmore speak Brittany Lawrence about the night life in Australia at the Study Abroad Fair on Thursday, Nov. 6.
The annual Study Abroad Fair held in the SOU Rogue River room on Thursday provided unique views and insight for prospective travelers.
The event served to answer general questions about programs, costs and destinations. A multitude of countries were represented from Guatemala to France, with past participants and native exchange students available to answer questions and to share experiences.
“You get eight college credits in three weeks, nothing beats that,” said senior hospitality and tourism major Lacey Igou.
Studying in Germany, Igou found the program convenient with the cost of housing taken care of as part of the package along with some of the airfare. Igou was letting others know about how to prepare for the journey and what to bring. She enjoyed the haste in which she was able to finish her classes and then enjoy the rest of her summer.
“It was short enough that if I didn’t like it, I wasn’t stuck there for months,” said Igou.
Jorge Tovar, a senior marketing student from Mexico, was promoting exchanges with Guanajuato.
“I love my country, I love my city,” said Tovar. “It’s really artistic oriented.”
He compared the atmosphere to that of Ashland and would like to inspire a curiosity about Guanajuato.
“Even though it’s a tourist city, it will always be a university town,” said Tovar.
He commented that a lot of people were unaware about the different lengths of programs available, from one month to an entire year. Director of International Programs, Sarah Stevens talked about the 40 year anniversary of the Guanajuato Program which is the oldest at SOU.
“We’re trying to highlight the strengths of the program by celebrating it,” she said.
Stevens noted that there is a program that works for almost every student, whether they have a foreign language background or not. Some seniors have gone the summer after they graduated. The only grade level restriction is on freshman students.
“We think they should adjust to college before they adjust to another culture,” Stevens said.
While some of the destinations require minimal language skills, there are many English speaking countries such as Australia and England available that do not have the restrictions. Additionally, opportunities within foreign language speaking countries like Italy offer classes taught in English as well as native language courses.
Stevens explained that the fair gives a general overview of the different programs while the weekly info sessions offered are for more specific questions.
“It’s easier to go abroad as a student then it is after,” Stevens said. “It’s really worth doing even if it takes a little time and preparation.”
Rachael Moreaus, a senior anthropology major, spent time in France and thought the cultural immersion helped with her minor in French.
“I think I learned more outside of the school,” she said.
She also talked about the importance of keeping an open mind when going into another country.
“Before I went I was really nervous,” Moreaus said. “It’s scary at first, but it’s worth it.”
A variety of internships were also on display. Senior Nicole Jackman chose an internship in India and recalled the experience as a submersion in the local culture.
“It’s a different experience than studying abroad, it gives you the chance to explore a possible career path,” she said. “For me it was a dream come true.”
Aaron Colvin a senior international studies major was recruiting volunteers for the “Long Way Home” a non-profit organization.
“Initially it started as an internship and through that I was rewarded with a job,” said Colvin.
The group is currently working in Guatemala with the native Mayan population to build a vocational school out of refuse like old tires and plastic bottles.
“In essence the kids will be building their own school by cleaning up the trash,” he said.
Colvin mentioned the manual labor involved in the internship, but said it was greatly rewarding by its direct affect on the native population.
Study Abroad Advisor for International Programs Jen Yockey sees the internships as advanced study abroad experiences.
“It’s a little more risk-taking because you don’t have that security net of your peers,” she said.
Yockey also connected these opportunities to future professions.
“It gives you more clarity on what your career goals are,” said Yockey.
Senior international studies major John Cotta visited Korea and talked about the various cultural differences and multitude of activities that were available there. Hiking, a booming night-life, concerts and sporting events were just a few of the things that he mentioned.
“It was the best year of my life, hands down,” he said. Cotta also promoted the ability to get scholarships and financial aid to help cover costs.
“If you feel inhibited by the cost financially, don’t let it deter you from going forward,” said Cotta.
Experiencing another culture was one of the more important aspects that Cotta stressed and his opinion of a traditional Korean meal exhibited his willingness to try new things.
“My favorite thing to eat was dog meat stew,” he said. “It’s amazing.”
For more information on how to get started, students should attend one of the weekly info sessions or call the office of International Programs at 552-6336 to set up an appointment.