Office of Global and Multicultural Education hosts Study Abroad Fair

Arianna Erdman, Editor in Chief

     Bloomsburg University is like another country for those students who grew up outside of the area, or even outside of Pennsylvania. For most incoming Huskies, this is as far away from home as they think they’ll ever be. With the start of a new semester, the Office of Global and Multicultural Education is once again preparing to remind students that the world is much bigger than Bloomsburg, PA. To kick that off, they held their Study Abroad Fair in the Kehr Union Ballroom on Wednesday, Sept. 14, from 3-5. Students, faculty, and outside organizations who partner with BU turned up to introduce interested students to the wide and unique variety of programs available for study abroad, showing that there’s a program for just about everyone.

     While many college students hear “study abroad” and think about giving up an entire semester or even academic year to study in a foreign country, often by themselves, those are only two of the options available. Increasingly, summer programs and faculty-led trips are becoming quite popular thanks to them being brief. One such trip is led by Dr. Yahya Laayouni, the Arabic professor for the Language and Cultures Department here at BU. The four-week program offers several advantages for students, since they can, “Concentrate on studying the language in classes from Monday to Friday, for two hours in the morning and two hours in the evening.” These programs also allow for appreciating the culture of countries where students stay, as they, “live with host families…and the money is paid to the host family, while the students can interact with people who live there.” Students also go on excursions across Morocco during this particular program, but it’s not the only one like it available. Faculty-led trips are offered in both summer and winter to places like Spain, Norway and Eastern Europe (multi-nation trip). It definitely seems like it’s worth the time and money, but what do students think?

     Fady, a student studying at BU from Morocco, said that he thinks study abroad programs are a great idea and that he, “Would want to go to other countries and experience other cultures different from my own. You get to learn other things…become a better person that way.” When asked which of the programs Bloomsburg offers that he would be interested in, Fady was rather open to different nations, so long as they weren’t “too similar” to his own. This highlighted a key point of study abroad that students should be mindful of: select a country that will put you outside of your comfort zone. Like Fady, who says America is a totally different culture than Morocco, many faculty and students who have been abroad recommend going to a program that is vastly different than the U.S. to really learn about the rest of the world. Playing is safe is not what study abroad is about.

     So, what are some challenges students might face? Ian Severson, a language major and a senior at BU, has done other study abroad programs. He noted that financial barriers are the biggest reason that he and other students might not study abroad. However, as he put it, “There are scholarships that can really help to ease that burden.” Some students might also experience difficulty transferring credits, but it usually isn’t a problem in programs offered by the university, and sometimes students can have programs tailored if they work with the Office of Global and Multicultural Education on one that they find outside of BU, such as Ian’s trip with University of Pittsburgh to Moscow this past summer. And while some students might wonder if it’s safe to travel abroad, Bloomsburg University works hard to ensure that their students are kept safe on any of their study programs. For many of the students who have gone on a study abroad program, they find that they feel even more safe overseas and more likely to explore on their own. Whatever your feelings are about study abroad, BU will certainly have something for you to try out, and employers will appreciate seeing such experience on a resume.

     The Office of Global and Multicultural Education will continue to have informational meetings and other cultural activities throughout the fall semester for interested students. For more information regarding study abroad or a specific trip, visit their office on the second floor of the Student Services Center