Fall 2010 Study Abroad Fair Opens Students' Eyes to Possibilities

September 2010 By

OXFORD, Miss - Representatives of universities spanning six continents packed the lobby of the Ole Miss Student Union recently for the Fall 2010 Study Abroad Fair.

The Study Abroad Fair provides students the chance to meet with representatives from international universities and organizations who serve as exchange partners with the University of Mississippi. UM students can gain more information about studying abroad in their countries and in their academic areas of interest.

Susan Oliphant, director of the Study Abroad program, said she was pleased with the student turnout and with the interest shown in academic as well as internship opportunities in other countries.

"The Study Abroad Fair prompts students to consider spending a semester in a different country," Oliphant said. "They begin to realize that studying abroad is a viable inclusion to their degree programs and their resumes. There are seldom students who cannot find some way to study abroad regardless of their major or financial situation.

"The sooner students learn about the Study Abroad opportunities available to them, the better. They can then begin working with their academic and Study Abroad advisers to plan their study abroad experiences."

In addition to having the opportunity to visit with representatives from exchange programs, students had the chance to meet with representatives from affiliate programs and UM faculty-led programs, Study Abroad Fair coordinator Blair McElroy said.

"Faculty presented their Wintersession programs, and our current exchange students presented their home universities to UM students," McElroy said. "Students learned about short-term programs, semester programs, and even master's programs in foreign countries - the opportunities are endless due to the partnerships the University of Mississippi has throughout the world."

Stuart Hurt, student assistant for Study Abroad, said he believes the fair provides the most suitable setting for students to meet with advisers and representatives.

"We're talking to students, showing them what we can offer through Ole Miss and the opportunities they have," Hurt said. "This is a great venue to interact with students outside the office. It's a little more informal, and I think students are more willing to ask questions they would be scared to ask during a formal appointment."

One of the booths featured information about German universities that partner with UM. Studying in Europe as well as in America allows students to learn different approaches toward instruction, said Sebastian Dowidat , a University of Osnabruck alumnus and Ole Miss MBA student.

"We are all in the same boat; we're all trying to get a degree somewhere in some area," Dowidat said. "We take a totally different approach toward education in general, not only in Germany, but also in Europe. Studying at one of our universities allows students to gain another perspective on issues such as business and international relations."

Stephanie Niven, head of International Office West at University of Stirling, said studying abroad provides life-changing experiences and opportunities for students.

"It would be really nice to open students' minds to the opportunities of studying abroad for a semester," Niven said. "It can be a real life-changing experience to live in a different place for four weeks, eight weeks, a semester or a year.

"It gives you the chance to really learn about another culture and meet with students from all different backgrounds. It allows you to experience a different side of life, and it's something that can stay with you for the rest of your life."

Junior engineering major Jim Mosier said visiting the booths allowed him to get more information and literature on the countries he was most interested in visiting.

"I've always been interested in studying abroad in Greece or Australia," Mosier said. "The fair has given me a chance to get some more information on those countries and the universities there that share my academic interests."

McElroy believes that based upon increased student interest and presence in the Office of Study Abroad, this fall's fair was the most successful thus far.

"More students attended this semester's fair than any previous fair, and the Study Abroad office has been extremely busy since the fair," McElroy said.

Oliphant says the fair is just one of many ways Ole Miss students can learn about the benefits of studying abroad and hopes they apply to punch their plane tickets.

"The advice I give all students is to plan early and keep your grades up," Oliphant said. "We want to send everybody abroad. We've got everything from exchange partners overseas to big American organizations to our own faculty. We have every continent except Antarctica represented, and we're working on that one."

For more information on UM Study Abroad, visit outreach.olemiss.edu/study_abroad.