Students browse Study Abroad Fair today

Graphic by: Brandon Coe

Tayler Critchlow

The annual Study Abroad Fair takes place today from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Russell Union Ballroom and will provide information on every study abroad opportunity offered.

Roughly 40 different tables will be set up offering Georgia Southern University students choices from study abroad trips ranging from the popular locations of Costa Rica and Western Europe to some of the not-as-popular and newer programs such as Brazil, Russia and Malawi.

“We would really like [students] to become familiar with all the wide variety of programs that we offer,” Danielle Smith, study abroad and academic coordinator of the Center for International Studies, said.

“We try to make study abroad inclusive, so no matter what part of the world you would want to go to, how long you want to go for or what your academic major is, we want study abroad to be for you,” Jeff Palis, Ph.D., associate director of the Center for International Studies, said.

This year GSU will provide study abroad trips to 11 new locations.

Students often have reservations regarding study abroad, more specifically with the cost of the programs.

Because GSU offers the programs, students can receive course credit and so any financial aid that student receives can be put toward a study abroad program and there are a wide variety of scholarships and grants offered.

“One of the myths about study abroad is that it’s expensive and what people don’t take into consideration, for instance, is actual opportunity cost and comparative pricing,” Jacek Lubecki, Ph.D., director for the Center for International Studies, said.

“I think once students do a budget and look at how much this period of time would cost them on campus versus how much this period of time would cost them on a summer or semester exchange, I think they’re going to find the costs to be closer than they think,” Palis said.

Students often tend to turn away from study abroad programs because they have not taken foreign language classes.

“Don’t be scared off from study abroad because you haven’t been studying a language. We want you to learn a language and we want you to get comfortable with and start to communicate with people in their host language, but most of our programs, even exchange, you don’t have to know that language to study abroad,” Smith said.

The study abroad fair provides students with numerous options to choose from and can be overwhelming.

“Come there with some idea of what you want to do, where you want to go, but yet be open to a program that maybe you haven’t thought about,” Palis said.

“When you learn about a country, or you hear about it from books or from websites, it’s different from when you go there,” Ahmet Bekhet, graduate assistant in the Center for International Studies study abroad research room and an exchange student from Egypt, said.

There are post-graduation benefits to studying abroad that some students may not realize.

“I find that study abroad actually helps a lot students develop some of these soft skills that you don’t necessarily think to put on a resume, so things like the ability to work with diverse groups of people, better-developed cross-cultural communication skills, the ability to be flexible, adaptable to meet challenging settings and situations head on. Things that employers really want in their employees but you don’t always have a chance to sit and learn them in any classroom,” Smith said.

Even if students do not wish to study abroad this summer, they are still urged to come and see what is offered and to start planning ahead for the next year.

Students interested in semester and academic year exchange programs can also attend the fair and learn about those programs offered.

Bekhet said, “It is an opportunity that all students should take because it might be an opportunity to change your life, and this happened to me. When I do study abroad I am changing my life.”