What would you say if you could explore the world and get class credit simultaneously? That’s a no-brainer, right? Every year, UGA students embark on adventure and immerse themselves into different cultures around the world. With programs ranging in length from Maymesters, full semesters, and year-long exchanges, Georgia Bulldogs are representing the University of Georgia across the globe. This week, the Spring Study Abroad Fair is taking place in the 3rd Floor Mural Hallway in the Tate Student Center on campus from 10am to 3pm on Tuesday, January 22nd. At the this event, students will be able to learn about UGA’s three campuses abroad: UGA Costa Rica, UGA Cortona, and UGA Oxford, as well as other trips offered through different schools on campus. The Mural Hallway will be lined with tables where individual programs will be set up and prepared to answer questions regarding itinerary, costs, and other details of their trip. The goal of the Study Away Fair is to expose students to study abroad and help them figure out which programs they have an interest in.
It seems almost cliche to say that everyone should study abroad before they graduate, but with the vast opportunities that UGA’s Study Abroad has, there really is no excuse not to go. Students all over campus in a variety of majors serve as unofficial brand ambassadors for their trips, constantly discussing and posting on social media about how much they loved the program they went on. It’s unheard of for a student to come home from a study abroad program only to say they regretted going. Instead, students are often overheard saying that they wished they had studied abroad for longer. The overwhelming positive feedback is a testament to the incredible programs led by UGA’s top professors. The professors that teach abroad are some of the most passionate, driven educators that UGA has to offer. Their unique teaching styles contribute to the experience that a student can expect from their study abroad experience. Due to this, every trip is unique, and no two cohorts will have the exact same adventure.
When students arrive at the Study Away Fair, they may feel overwhelmed. A student who is interested and prepared, will likely come to the Tate Student Center ready to embrace everything that the fair has to offer. But a student who just needed to walk through the hallway and accidentally found his or herself in the midst of the study abroad fair may not know what is happening. Suddenly, they have twenty different pamphlets and are late for class because they were listening to an emotional story about a fourth-year’s trip to China. The trip leaders are like professional salespeople, trying their hardest to convince students to fill a spot on their trip. The student didn’t have study abroad on their radar, is now late for class, and didn’t even have time to get the sheet on how many scholarships are given out for study abroad each year.
It’s easy to get confused about the different opportunities and program options, as there are so many. As students make their way down the hallway, they will be given pamphlets, fliers, cost cards, and promotional items specific to each trip. Some trips will spark an interest, others will end up on the bottom of a backpack or a trashcan. No two trips are alike, just like no two people are alike, but a short, one minute conversation with the program director may not be enough for some students to truly grasp why they should go abroad. There truly is a trip for everyone, but the process of finding, applying, and then committing to a program can seem intimidating.
Students should keep an open mind and be present when listening to the overview of each program. They need to hold on to the information cards and promotional pens instead of viewing the possibility of their abroad trip as wishful thinking. While UGA does have three campuses abroad, students are not limited to those three. In the photo above, a student poses in front of the finish line of the Mount Kilimanjaro climb in Tanzania. Those who attend the Study Away Fair, but don’t find a trip that sparks their interest, can find many programs like this Tanzania trip on the Study Away website.
Common “excuses” for many college students include that they need to find a job, take classes, don’t have the financial capability to go abroad, or simply don’t have the time to commit to a program. With the large amount of scholarship opportunities available for students who want to study abroad, the wide variety of class credit options, and the overwhelming number of learning experiences available, there are no excuses not to study abroad… or at least not to go to the Study Away Fair on Tuesday, January 22nd from 10am to 3pm in the Tate Student Center.