Study abroad fair to give students opportunities to see the world

By David McLain

Students walking through the SUB’s Barfield Drawing Room today for their weekly Dr Pepper float will find the room full of booths representing Baylor study abroad opportunities.

There will be more than 80 programs featured in the 2012 Fall Study Abroad Fair sponsored by the Center for International Education. It will be held in conjunction with the Dr Pepper Hour from 3 to 5 p.m. in the Barfield Drawing Room.

“Roughly 1,200 students pass through the doors in the fall fair,” said J.J. Ilseng, the student exchange and study abroad coordinator.

“It’s great because it gives a lot of exposure to the programs,” said Jackie Blankenship, coordinator of semester abroad programs. “Students who haven’t looked for themselves online, come in and get a Dr Pepper float and get information on those programs.”

Baylor has two main types of study abroad programs: group study abroad and exchange and affiliate programs, according to the Center for International Education.

“It’s an opportunity to meet the program directors face to face instead of looking at a name online,” Blankenship said.

Group Study Abroad participants travel and study with a Baylor professor or staff member along with other Baylor students. Exchange affiliate programs are only coordinated by the Study Abroad office, according to the CIE.

The faculty-led trips can range from a 10-day visit to Eastern Europe with the Baylor Business school, to a semester-long program held in Maastricht, Netherlands.

“The fair is primarily for freshmen and sophomores that haven’t seen these programs yet,” Ilseng said.

Much of the derived value is from the faculty and summer programs that do not get a lot of publicity, Ilseng said.

“There is no other time that all the programs are in the same room and the students can get a big picture of the study abroad choices that they have,” Blankenship said.

The Study Abroad Fair is held bi-annually, once in September and once in February. The goal of the fair is to help Baylor students understand the availability and access they have to opportunities abroad, Ilseng said.

“There is sort of a traditional myth that those of a lower socioeconomic class can’t go, and thats just not true,” Ilseng said. “A lot of times we can make this cheaper than a semester in Waco.”

There will also be booths set up with information about the available scholarship opportunities directly related to study abroad trips.

All students are welcome to attend.