Friday, October 19th, 2018

Study Abroad Fair helps students weigh academic options

Patrick Higgins

Posted on February 01, 2016 in Sports
By USM Free Press

By Raquel Miller

On Tuesday, Jan. 26, tables of study abroad representatives lined the Brooks Center dining hall for a study abroad fair.  As you walked farther into the dining hall, pamphlet filled tables with welcoming faces of representatives appeared.

Leading the line of tables was USM’s Office of International Programs where Assistant Director, Kaoru Phillips and coordinator Laura Blanton welcomed students. The Office of International Programs is located in Payson Smith on the Portland campus, but students on the Gorham campus can visit Blanton during her occasional Tuesday availability or make an appointment with the office for more information.

Phillips, originally from Japan, was an exchange student herself when she was in college and cited her experience as a way to broaden horizons, builds resumes, enrich cultural experiences.

If she could advise a student who is thinking about studying abroad, she would say to “take advantage of this opportunity the university provides.”  There are unlimited resources in the international program’s office and USM currently has exchange programs with universities in five countries including South Korea, England, Netherlands, Japan and Canada.

Students who participate in these programs will pay USM’s in-state-tuition even if they are an out-of-state student. This allows students to utilize not only financial aid, but the scholarships they have received as well. Financial aid is always a resource for students who are eligible.  

In the Presidential Dining Hall on Tuesday night was Dilara Isik, a Senior from Radboud Universiteit in the Netherlands. She is abroad in an exchange program with USM, and lead a talk that aimed to encourage students to participate in the exchange program.  Part of Isik’s requirement for her major in American studies was to come to the United States and found that  doing so was very accessible possibility.

Isik pointed out that there are some distinct cultural differences compared to the Netherlands. The way people speak is more “direct” and although people are incredibly polite, those who visit the Netherlands, or any foreign country, should be prepared for the differences in speech, behavior and mannerisms.

It is common for students to experience culture shock while abroad, but USM and providers of study abroad programs have a team of people who help with pre-departure and many have residential staff on location for emergencies and concerns.  

A representative for CAPA the global education network,specializes in study abroad programs in large, was present at the event, and described that urban environments like Sydney, London, Shanghai and Buenos Aires, ensures that studying abroad helps students “understand who they are as a person in a global world.”  

Many representatives of study abroad at each table on Tuesday night had studied abroad themselves when they were in college. This firsthand knowledge and experience better provided students with useful information.

A representative for American Institute for Foreign Study found her experience abroad to be none like any experience before.  

“Personally, my experience was one of the most enriching experiences of my life,” she said. “Experiencing a new culture opens up a new world allowing you to possess a new perspective. It is very holistic.”

Businesses are often looking for students with international experience and studying abroad is a perfect resume builder.  Professionally and academically, studying abroad can enhance and open up possibilities while also enriching every aspect of your life.

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