Free, public Study Abroad Fair is first step to journey of a lifetime

contact: Margaret von Steinen
| WMU News

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—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 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 8, on campus in the Bernhard Center's East Ballroom.

"Where Are You Going?" is the theme for the 2014 fair, which is free and open to the public and being sponsored by WMU's Haenicke Institute for Global Education. The event will showcase the more than 90 programs WMU offers in some 40 countries.

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 2013 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."

WMU students may access the new downloadable book, "A Student Guide to Study Abroad," at no cost from the Study Abroad website wmich.edu/studyabroad. Published by the American Institute for Foreign Study and Institute of International Education, it offers comprehensive advice on studying abroad, from selecting a program to tips on how to represent a study abroad experience on a resume.

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 other cultures outside the United States.

2014 Study Abroad Fair

Fair attendees will have a chance to speak with WMU students who have studied and interned abroad, as well as WMU professors who coordinate programs and courses around the globe. Study abroad specialists from the University will be available to answer questions, as will 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 2014 Study Abroad Fair will feature an expanded venue to allow for more than 15 additional display tables. 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. Attendees also will be able to enjoy a free pizza slice and soft drink.

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 also are available.

In 2013, 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 2014 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.

WMU's Abroad Fair

WMU's Study Abroad Fair is set for Oct. 8