By Bridget Balch
As a part of the Family Weekend festivities, the UMW Office of International Academic Services hosted the Education Abroad Fair in Great Hall for students and their families to explore the many options available for academic travel.
Students and parents were welcomed by the rhythmic music of the African Hand Percussion Club. Donned in colorful African garb.
Upon entering the fair, students were bombarded with a mass of information in the room.
There were representatives from the various department programs within UMW, including classics, economics, business, Arabic, historic preservation, German, Spanish, Italian, English, psychology, and history.
Representatives from programs sponsored by organizations not associated with UMW, such as American College Dublin, Programs Around the World, Global Experience, the Peace Corps, Semester at Sea, Lexia, The School for Field Studies, Boston University, American University, and Royal Holloway University of London were also present.
“The amount of information is overwhelming,” said Glenda Reyes, a student who came to check out the various study abroad opportunities offered. “There’s just so much great information, I don’t know where to start!”
Reyes is strongly considering studying in England or Ireland, and said she found the information on major cooperation with study abroad very helpful.
There were several students assisting at the fair who had studied abroad themselves. Senior Jonathan Putty and sophomore Kelsey Coates spent a semester at Lingnan University in Hong Kong, China.
Coates described it as an “Amazing life changing experience [that] enhances the university experience.”
Putty recommended studying abroad, particularly in Hong Kong.
“Anyone who gets the opportunity to go should,” he said.
He went on to describe the highlights of his own experiences abroad, mentioning his weekend trip to Thailand, the marketplaces in China, the Chinese people, the cleanliness of the subway, and visiting the building from the Batman movie as some of his best memories.
Coates, who accompanied Putty on the excursions, particularly remembered her experience riding an elephant.
Senior, Kelly Key, highly recommends studying in Bath, England. She admitted she had a hard time choosing where to go at first. She was especially torn between Bath and London.
However, she ultimately chose to go with the rural, more personal city of Bath, despite the fact that the program was not directly affiliated with UMW, rather than the hustling, bustling capital of London.
Ann Witkowsky, assistant director of international academic services, said the university has a fairly large number of students who choose to study abroad.
At peak, 30% of UMW students studied abroad and the University’s program was mentioned in Open Doors, a report on international education exchange.
According to Witkowsky, students can find opportunities to study almost anywhere, but the most popular destinations seem to be in Western Europe, particularly Spain.
However, she said the number of students choosing to go to Latin America is rising and a small number of students decide to go to nontraditional destinations such as the Middle East and Asia.
The cost to study abroad can vary greatly depending on where the student chooses to go and what program they select.
The programs that are faculty-led and sponsored by UMW tend to be less expensive than those offered by other organizations.
The financial aid department works with students who wish to study abroad by helping them to either use the financial aid they already receive toward their studies abroad or to procure additional aid through Federal Pell Grants, Federal Stafford Loans, Federal Parent Loans, and Alternative Loans.