2,600 students explore opportunities at Study Abroad Fair

An estimated 2,600 students came to the 2013 Study Abroad Fair on September 18, at Union South, to explore the multitude of programs and locations offered through the University of Wisconsin–Madison and other providers.

Organized by International Academic Programs (IAP), the fair featured more than 90 exhibits, providing students with a one-stop marketplace where they can learn about the variety of international academic opportunities, ask questions, and get practical information about pursuing educational experiences abroad.

We spoke with several attendees, asking such questions as: Why did you come to the fair? Why are you interested in going abroad? Where in the world do you want to go?

Here, identified by first names only, are their responses:

“I want to open my eyes to the world to learn everything I can,” says Vy Thao, a freshman from Vietnam majoring in engineering. Where does she want to go? She wants to learn about how businesses operate in China, but, at the same time, she loves London.

Amanda, a junior from Minneapolis majoring in psychology, wants to study child psychology in Europe – in Italy or England – while sampling diverse cultures and cuisines.

“Prague has a booming economy despite it being so unstable,” says Dan, a freshman from the Minneapolis-St. Paul area majoring in pre-business and Spanish. He wants to pursue his interest in global companies by studying in the Czech Republic. “I hope to study about these businesses that are able to survive and run successfully despite abnormal conditions.”

April, a junior from Kenosha, Wisconsin, majoring in zoology and film, wants to study abroad “for the experience,” perhaps in Ecuador or New Zealand. She came to the fair to learn more about specific programs.

“I’m already planning on studying abroad somewhere second semester of next year,” says Aaron, a sophomore from Middleton, Wisconsin, majoring in biochemistry and environmental studies. He wants “to see a different culture. I’m not going to be able to go overseas when I have a job.” He is considering Italy, Denmark and Australia “because they interest me.”

“My interests are diverse,” says Miriam, a freshman from Minneapolis majoring in international and environmental studies. She is looking to study in India. “I’m keen to learn about climate change on one hand and about human rights on the other. Studying them from different places and perspectives will help me understand them better.”

“I want to travel to explore and meet new people,” says Madison, a freshman from Minnesota. She wants to study in Spain or Argentina to practice her Spanish-speaking skills.

“When you embark on a journey as big as this one, it’s hard to come back as the same person,” says Benjamin, a junior from Chicago majoring in political science and German. He hopes to build the skills he needs to pursue a career as an ambassador. He wants to go somewhere – perhaps Austria, Germany or Switzerland – where he can get around easily.

“I want to go abroad, either to Greece or Australia, or maybe England,” says Abby, a sophomore biology major from Lakeville, Minnesota. Abby, who transferred from University of Colorado at Boulder, came to the fair to explore her options. “I want to see a new place. There should be academic reasons for wanting to go but…” she hasn’t made any decisions yet.

Tim, a freshman engineering major from Rochester, Minnesota, came to the fair with his class, the Bradley Roundtable from the Bradley Learning Community. He wants “to travel, to get out of your bubble. Plus you’ll never have such good prices when you’re not a college student anymore.” He came to the check out opportunities, including non-UW programs, and to consider where he would like to go. Right now, he is most interested in Italy, India and Spain.

Giangela, a freshman biology major from Chicago, is eager to experience an education system different than the one she knows. She wishes to compare her own culture with that of another country to gain new perspectives.

— by Haley Henschel and Neha Alluri