Fair helps students find study abroad programs

Abigail Dunagan, Campus Carrier arts and living editor

On Sept. 7, the Berry College Office of International Experiences hosted the annual study abroad fair. This event was an opportunity for students to chat with Berry professors and representatives that are leading various study abroad programs. There are a wide range of programs available for students each year, from summer programs that are led by Berry professors, as well as semester-long trips that are hosted by affiliate organizations. 

Elizabeth Davis, director of international experiences, oversees all study abroad programs at Berry College and aids students with recruitment, advising and trip planning. There are a total of 12 Summer International Programs (SIPs) for the summer of 2024. SIPs are summer study abroad programs that are taught by professors at Berry. Along with SIPs, there are various programs that are led by affiliate organizations that are available to Berry students. According to Davis, Berry professors and affiliate representatives are invited to set up a table at the fair and speak with interested students.

“I invite the faculty to the fair in the middle of August,” Davis said. “The ones who are able to come have a table, and for the ones who aren’t able to come, we still advertise their programs for them.”

Senior Railey Borman works in the Office of International Experiences as a student advisor. Borman has studied abroad twice, during the Spring semester of 2023 and the Summer of 2023. She assisted with preparation for the study abroad fair, as well as working during the fair and speaking with students. Borman stated that preparation for the fair involves printing advising sheets and setting up the tents. During the fair, she assisted students with finding programs that they were interested in. 

“It was really awesome,” Borman said. “I think it was a great opportunity for students to really explore what is out there, instead of having to come to our office.” 

Planning for the trips begins a year in advance. According to Davis, professors who are interested in leading a program for the summer of 2025 are currently putting in requests. While studying abroad can seem unattainable, Davis stated that with proper planning, studying abroad can be possible for any student at Berry. 

“It is possible to study abroad, no matter your major or financial situation. Berry works really hard to make studying abroad affordable,” Davis said. “If you plan early enough, there are routes that you can take to go for the same amount that you are paying at Berry now.” 

Professor Matthew Stanard will be leading the SIP titled “HIS 156: The World in a Very Small Place in the Mediterranean: A Global History of Majorca.” This class will focus on viewing the history of the island of Majorca through a global perspective. Stanard has led two SIPs in previous years, but this will be his first time teaching this specific course. Stanard stated that the fair helps increase student interest in studying abroad. The course cannot take place unless enough students sign up to attend. Once enough students commit to the trip, Stanard can begin booking hotels, purchasing tickets, and building the course. According to Stanard, apart from class credit, there are many things that students can gain from studying abroad. 

“The advantage of just traveling, getting out of your comfort zone, and going to a place that’s totally different from where you live. The benefits of that are multi-fold,” Stanard said. “Yes, you are going to get class credits, but you are also going to go to a place that most people have never gone to before.” 

Standard stated that the college years are a great time to travel abroad because students have very flexible schedules, and it can be easier to find the time to travel during the summers between semesters. 

“I would say this is a great time in your life to take advantage of this opportunity,’ Stanard said. “Here there are people that love Berry students. We want you to have a good time. We want you to learn, and we know something about these places.” 

Borman found that studying abroad helped her get out of her comfort zone and to immerse herself in another culture. She found that seeing things across the world helped her learn better than reading from a book or looking at a power point. While the experience can be intimidating, Borman believes that more people should know that studying abroad is more attainable than they might think. 

“It just kind of throws you out into the deep end, but it is also a good thing because it teaches you how to swim,” Borman said. “You learn a lot of independence, and you learn a lot about how the world works, just by observing and being in new situations.” 

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