USF World held its annual Education Abroad Fair on Tuesday to provide students a glimpse into the opportunities available to them. Booths dedicated to each program and GloBull Ambassadors — students who have studied abroad and returned to share their experience — filled the Marshall Student Center (MSC) Ballroom.
Students of every level milled about the fair, learning about various programs from veteran program attendees. One such attendee, now a GloBull Ambassador, got started at a fair like Tuesday’s.
Kathryn Harring spent 40 days living and studying on a sailboat.
Harring, a junior majoring in Environmental Science, studied abroad for a SeaMester. The program, which is run through a third party study abroad group, allows students to enroll in coursework while sailing around the world for anywhere from 20 to 90 days.
The students visit areas like the Pacific Ocean and Society Islands, the Lesser Antilles, the Mediterrranean and the Atlantic, among others. Academic coursework includes lessons in marine biology and oceanography through diving, geology through hiking and more, according to the program’s website.
This was the kind of study Harring said she experienced on her study abroad trip. During this time, she had to adjust to life on a sailboat with a small group of peers.
“It was a big culture shock originally … You just learn so much about yourself by having to be in that kind of close quarters with everyone,” Harring said. “It’s just indescribable how amazing an experience it is.”
She became close friends with the people she lived and traveled with; and she said she is in the process of planning visits to see some of them in the near future.
Harring’s interest in travel made her immerse herself in a Study Abroad Fair on the USF St. Petersburg campus her freshman year, talking to every booth and grabbing every brochure and later deciding on SeaMester.
Now she is a GloBull Ambassador, sharing her experiences with other students.
Harring said she considers her experience studying abroad with SeaMester invaluable. However, she never would have found it or the resources that helped her through the process without visiting the Study Abroad Fair.
The Global Citizens Project, the Office of National Scholarships and Student Health Services were also in attendance at Tuesday’s fair, joined by third party organizations including The Education Abroad Network and USAC. Music from several represented countries played in the ballroom and popcorn was served.
This congregation of study abroad options was exactly the goal of the Education Abroad Office, Chris Haynes, Student Program Coordinator for the USF Education Abroad Office, said. According to Haynes, the fair is important because it provides an opportunity for students to speak one-on-one with the people running each trip and see how each trip can fit their needs. The fair also provided students with resources for reducing the anxiety evoked by traveling abroad.
“It’s everything at once. If you were undecided on a program or you just were one of those people that [said] ‘I want to study abroad’ … you can’t have a better venue then to have … all of your providers on hand,” Haynes said. “You get the little nuances … that you can’t always tell from the Internet.”
Haynes said the most rewarding thing is seeing the students get excited about studying abroad. It’s part of a larger USF focus on studying abroad as a whole — something which Jim Pulos, associate director of education abroad, thinks is only logical to include in the education of USF students on their way to becoming global citizens.
“I think one of the highlights of USF’s many great missions is to prepare our students to be global citizens. USF really truly is striving to prepare students to be the most well-rounded … (and) most competitive when they leave USF … and we know that that now means being an international citizen,” Pulos said.
Pulos was at the USF in Florence booth at the fair, one of the many large trips offered to USF students of all majors.
There are two study abroad fairs per academic year, one in fall and one in spring. The planning for the fall semester fair started back in mid-summer. Haynes said the biggest part of the process was coordination and cooperation across the different USF offices and departments.
Faculty and other trip leaders have to be contacted, which Haynes said can sometimes be difficult due to those leaders either being out of the office or on study abroad trips during the summer. During that time, however, the planners take care of room reservations, food and other items. The MSC takes care of room setup and arrangement.
The next Study Abroad Fair will be held during the spring semester. For the rest of the fall semester, the Education Abroad Office will be hosting information sessions. Details for these events, as well as office hours and location, can be found at educationabroad.global.usf.edu.