On Thursday, Sept. 14, University of Maine students of all majors gathered at the study abroad fair. They learned about a wide array of opportunities available to those who wish to study in a foreign country.
Tables covered in flyers, informative pamphlets and email lists filled the Estabrooke Hall ballroom walls. Program representatives and staff members work together to guide students to a program that suits their needs and to learn a little bit more about studying abroad.
Students began their way around the fair at the UMaine Study Abroad tables, which offered information about the application process and direct exchange. These tables also introduced them to student peer advisors, students who have already studied abroad.
Robyn Estes was offered a job as a student peer advisor after studying abroad in Costa Rica.
“I enjoy being one of the first people who gets to help students on their journey,” Estes said. “The Study Abroad Fair was the first place I came when I decided I wanted to look into it.”
While the most popular destinations for UMaine students are Australia and the U.K., UMaine offers over 700 programs in 79 countries.
“It’s important to have study abroad fairs because they create a tangible place with other students where you can look at your options in a non-overwhelming way,” Estes said. “Students shouldn’t worry that it’s going to be too expensive. With some direct exchange programs your tuition covers almost all of the cost, and UMaine works hard to help with student aid.”
Last year, UMaine granted $63,000 in scholarships and 85 percent of all study abroad students received aid.
Many students believe that studying abroad will set them back academically; however, many programs work in tandem with your degree. Some majors even allow you to study abroad for up to three semesters.
“The next step after this is to have a meeting with a peer advisor. Between all of us, we have a wealth of knowledge, and we can help you prepare for the rest of your college career,” Estes said.
The rest of the tables hosted the eight secular exchange programs that work with UMaine to get students out into the world. Each program had one or two representatives who were ready to help students find the right program.
Wanda Dutton, a representative from School of International Training (SIT) Study Abroad, believes study abroad fairs are critical to getting students involved.
“They give students a good picture of all of their options, as well as sparking that idea and desire to go abroad. It gives them the whole world in one room,” Dutton said.
After being involved with the Peace Corps, Dutton found jobs that enabled her to continue traveling the world. “Once you travel for yourself you really learn the value, and you never wanna go back.”
“There are many different ways a student can study abroad,” Dutton said. “SIT offers students field experience, practical experience and full immersion.”
Typical program options include direct exchange programs, recommended programs, internships abroad, research abroad, student-teaching abroad and travel study courses.
Students have a lot to consider when deciding which program is best for them. Variables such as how long a student might like to be abroad, their course of study and desired location will dictate which programs may be best suited for them. The deadlines to apply are Oct. 15 for spring programs and Feb. 20 for summer and fall programs.