Study abroad fair showcases academic, internship opportunities

Students share international experiences


Students interested in studying abroad were able to talk with program coordinators at Wednesday's fair.

Lauren Hornsby | Cavalier Daily

The International Studies Office held a study abroad fair Wednesday to showcase opportunities for students to work or study overseas.

The fair featured 39 University programs, 24 outside providers and representatives of the University’s exchange partners.

Photo: Lauren Hornsby

Majida Bargach, the director of the Morocco semester and summer study abroad programs, said students are constantly learning when they are subjected to a new environment.

“Personally, whenever I am not in my comfort zone, I know that I’m learning,” Bargach said. “Morocco isn't a foreign country to me, but when I go to new places I learn again and again.”

Ingrid Hakala, the director of the University’s global intern office, said interning abroad gives students the opportunity to participate and affect local economies overseas, which is good for exploring new cultures, resume building and experiences to share in job interviews down the line.

“I’m really pleased because we have some long standing [relationships] with India that I’ve worked with for a long time,” Hakala said. “We have two students that are high up in the Himalayas helping to train eco-tourist guides.”

Last year’s graduating class saw a 35 percent participation rate for study abroad, with a total of 1,371 students from a variety of majors and backgrounds traveling to 71 different countries.

In addition to faculty and program directors, students with study abroad experience were present to answer questions and share their experiences.

Third-year Engineering student Curtis Davis shared his unique experience while studying abroad in Tanzania.

“They’re very focused on wildlife studies so we learned about wildlife conflicts because none of their national parks are fenced in,” Davis said. “There’s wildlife that leaves the parks and has interactions with people [and] livestock.”

Davis said one of his most memorable moments abroad was coming in close contact with lions while in Serengeti National Park.

“The second day we were in the park and we saw a male and female [lion], and they walked along the road and came and walked right in front of our car, which made it almost hard to breathe for a minute,” he said.

While the fair mainly featured programs that allowed students to study in a classroom environment abroad, several programs — such as the ones Davis participated in — allow students to engage in internship opportunities and field work.

“One reason [to study abroad] would definitely be just the amount of time that we spend learning outside of the classroom,” Davis said. “Because in Tanzania, at least for the summer program, about two-thirds of our learning experience was not in the classroom.”

Although there were many students and representatives of various programs who had already been abroad, most of the attendees came to learn about their preferred study abroad program.

Both Scott Glib, a third-year College student, and Javier Olguin, a third-year College student, have strong desires to go abroad.

Some students, like Glib, have been planning to study abroad for a long time.

“I’ve been dreaming of traveling to South America since middle school — specifically the Andes and western Amazonia,” Glib said. “Although my time in Charlottesville has been irreplaceable so far, I am craving an exotic home.”

Students like Olguin, however, are simply interested in traveling anywhere outside the United States and gaining experience overseas.

“I’m interested in studying abroad because I’ve never been outside the country in the first place, and I want to discover what’s out there,” Olguin said.

Correction: This article previously stated that the Institute for International Education of Students hosted the fair.

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