Study Abroad Fair is first step to journey of a lifetime

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Photo of traditional Japanese footwear.

"Where Are You Going?" is the theme for this year's fair.

KALAMAZOO—The ancient Chinese philosopher Laozi wisely advised his contemporaries that the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.

Western Michigan University students are invited to take their first step toward planning an overseas learning experience as part of their degree program by attending the annual Study Abroad Fair.

"Where Are You Going?" is the theme for the 2013 fair, which is set for noon to 4 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 9, on campus in the Bernhard Center's East Ballroom.

The Study Abroad Fair will showcase the more than 70 programs WMU offers in some 30 countries. It is free and open to the public and being sponsored by the University's Haenicke Institute for Global Education.

Benefits of going abroad

Studying or interning abroad provides a bridge for students wishing to enhance their WMU degree with an international experience that will also give them a competitive edge when seeking employment.

In a recent survey of 100 human resource directors and CEOs conducted by the Institute of International Education, 97 percent of respondents agreed that candidates with international study or work experience will likely have the cross-cultural communication skills and cultural awareness necessary to succeed in today's globalized economy.

"Each year, the Study Abroad Fair enables more than 800 students and community members to explore the study abroad opportunities available to them worldwide," says Dr. Jane Blyth, WMU director of study abroad and global program development. "It is a popular event that has influenced many to embark on a study abroad course. In fact, our study abroad fair is often the first step in a life-altering journey of exploration and discovery for many of our students."

Graduate and undergraduate students working toward degrees in any discipline, regardless of foreign language skills, are eligible to earn major and minor or general education and elective credits at WMU while exploring new cultures overseas.

About the 2013 fair

The Study Abroad Fair offers attendees the opportunity to speak with WMU students who have studied and interned abroad, as well as WMU professors who coordinate programs and courses around the globe. Additionally, study abroad specialists from WMU Study Abroad will be available to answer questions, along with representatives from non-WMU organizations providing more than 100 study and work programs conducted worldwide.

Prospective study abroad students will learn about completing internships with overseas companies and numerous academic and language-intensive programs. Options include studying comparative health practices in the Netherlands, impacts of globalization in Senegal, and immigration issues and health education in Mexico, as well as language programs in Chinese, French, German, Russian Spanish and Japanese. Many programs are taught in English.

The 2013 Study Abroad Fair will feature an expanded venue to allow for more than 15 additional display tables. Attendees will also be able to enjoy a free soft drink and slice of pizza.

As in past years, representatives from WMU's Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships and Sindecuse Health Center will be at the fair to answer inquiries about financial aid, health and other issues related to traveling abroad.

About WMU Study Abroad

Almost 600 WMU students participate in study and intern abroad programs each academic year. Nearly all types of student financial aid may be applied toward study abroad programs, including money received through the Kalamazoo Promise and Michigan Education Trust funds. Numerous scholarships are also available.

In 2012, WMU students received nearly $500,000 from scholarships and grants specifically earmarked for study abroad. Of that amount, about $400,000 came from WMU sources, such as the President's Grant for Study Abroad program, a WMU endowment that offers grants of up to $10,000 to students who study a foreign language overseas, and the Haenicke Institute Scholarship for Summer Study Abroad.

For more information about the 2013 WMU Study Abroad Fair, including registration details for program representatives and study abroad vendors, contact Katie Bolter, WMU study abroad fair coordinator, at study-abroad-outreach@wmich.edu or (269) 387-5890.