Studying abroad is a unique opportunity for University of Maine students to get out of their comfort zones. On Sept. 19 in the Memorial Union, students and faculty gathered together to participate in the annual Study Abroad Fair. The event continued in the New Balance Student Recreation Center that evening to give students another chance to gather information.
Many different study abroad programs and organizations were present at the event, both from groups that are affiliated with UMaine and outside independent programs. Some of these included CIS Abroad, University Studies Abroad Consortium (USAC), UMaine Office of Major Scholarships, School for International Training (SIT), Academic Programs International (API) and UMaine International Programs.
“I think one of the most vital parts of going to college is learning how to interact with other people and to be a good employee,” Beth Maberry, coordinator for summer program development in the division of lifelong learning said. “A lot of our study abroad courses and programs are tailored to specific programs or majors, and we also offer travel study general education courses as well. These give you a chance to really learn something new, and add an interesting topic to your resume that can help you later in life as well.”
UMaine staff were present at the event to introduce upcoming travel courses that are offered and to answer questions about financial aid, scholarships and other areas of university life. The travel study program at UMaine is something that gives students the opportunity to study abroad without having to stay out of the country for a full four-month term. These courses are regular classes that are offered during the regular spring semester and give students a chance to experience another country in a shorter amount of time for a more affordable price.
“Regardless of your major and what you are studying, I think it’s important to learn about other cultures and different perspectives so that you can be a better participant in the world after you leave,” Maberry said. “One of the best ways to do that is to study abroad. Whether it is a full semester or one of the short term courses over the summer that we offer, it really gives you a chance to see a different point of view on things and learn about how people live.”
Some of the current travel courses offered through UMaine include Biology 309 with a trip to the Bahamas, Anthropology 477 with a trip to Croatia, and English 429 with a trip to Cuba. There are also many ways and opportunities to study for full semesters abroad, either with a university program or outside organization.
“I think it is so important to encourage people to study abroad and for our school to help make that happen,” third-year nursing student Kenzie Farrell said. “There is so much more to the world than Maine, and some people won’t ever really get to understand that until they leave. It’s nice to go to a school that encourages studying abroad and that helps provide resources for us.”
Students were able to sign in at the study abroad fair and provide contact information that could help get them connected to more study abroad events and information sessions. They also had the option of signing up to receive fliers and information about specific programs or talk to representatives at those tables. Many of the tables handed out pamphlets, snacks, candy and other free treats for students to enjoy as they learned about all of the different study abroad opportunities.
“Studying abroad will definitely put you somewhere out of your comfort zone,” Farrell said. “Once you get out of that comfort zone, you come to realize that you have to rely only on yourself. We currently have more girls studying abroad than boys at the university, and we hope to change that by holding fairs like this one and getting students to be more open. In order to experience something amazing and new, you have to leave the environment you are comfortable in, but it is so worth it.”