Education abroad: an opportunity for all

An old Chinese proverb states, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” For students who wish to study abroad at St. Cloud State, the Education Abroad fair was the first step. The Center for International Studies hosted the fair Wednesday, Sept. 26 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Atwood Mall. Upon entering the fair, it was clear that this event was for students who knew they wanted to study abroad or was at least interested in studying abroad.

The fair covered the entire study abroad experience: picking a program, applying, understanding other prerequisites, and covering the cost of the program. The university offers over thirty study abroad programs with about half of them being represented at the fair. Some of the most popular programs include England, Malaysia and South Africa.

What not all students understand when planning on studying abroad is that there are more hoops to jump through than the simple application. There is an application fee, obtaining your passport, and making sure you pass the Student Health Services requirements. Besides financial aid through FAFSA and Huskies Scholarships, this fair brought attention to other outside sources.

Studying abroad is an opportunity for all students at St. Cloud State. One of the many perks of attending St. Cloud State is that students can study abroad as a freshman. There are four options for freshmen: Australia, Malaysia, South Africa and England. The only requirement is that freshmen take a First Year Experience class or work out another arrangement with the department. The thirty programs mentioned early are comprised of a mix of short and long-term programs, programs on six of the seven continents, and classes taught in multiple languages.

Once you pick your program, you must apply and meet the necessary requirements. Some programs have prerequisites that must be taken. The best advice when planning your trip is to start early. Obtaining a passport takes a minimum of six weeks, and especially takes longer during holiday traveling season. Applying for scholarships and planning financially for your trip is recommended to begin a year before your trip to make sure you don’t miss out on any opportunities for scholarships. St. Cloud State provides healthcare for students studying abroad; however, a meeting with Student Health Services is still necessary once accepted into a program. These comprise most of the small details that can easily get overlooked when planning a trip.

Financial status is one of the touchy subjects of attending college, yet one of the most joked about. While loans are always available, there are other ways of paying for a study abroad program. The first step is to meet with the Financial Aid office if you receive FAFSA to see if your award will increase due to the trip. Next, is to visit Huskies Scholarships where a multitude of scholarships exists solely for education abroad programs. Finally, is to look for outside sources of financial aid. Some of the booths present at the fair include ISA (International Studies Abroad), AIFS (American Institute for Foreign Study), CEA (Cultural Experiences Abroad), and API (Academic Programs International).

Studying abroad can be a game changer for students. On a personal level, studying abroad gives new experiences and new ideas to those who take advantage of the opportunity.

“I want to travel abroad because I want to experience the world and I can’t pass up an opportunity to travel like this,” freshman Josh Killmer said.

On an educational level, learning in new environments, with different professors, among students from across the world allows for a completely new learning experience. On a professional level, studying abroad helps applicants stand out in a pool of resumes.

The Center for International Studies advertised the fair with the catchy slogan, “Take Your Paws Somewhere New.” The fair hosted on Sept. 26 was a good first step for students; however, for students serious about studying abroad a lot more steps need to be taken.

“One thing I learned at the fair was that the Australia semester trip can happen in the spring and the fall, which I was relieved because I want to go in the fall,” Killmer said.

While searching for programs it is important to keep in mind how long the program is and when it takes place. Studying abroad is an opportunity for all students. If you’re interested, take the next step and visit the Center for International Studies in Lawrence Hall.

For more information on specific programs, please check out the SCSU’s education abroad website: https://www.stcloudstate.edu/educationabroad/default.aspx.

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Anna Panek

Anna is a junior at St. Cloud State University and is double majoring in Math Education and Spanish Education, with a minor in Special Education. She is the Managing Editor for the University Chronicle this year. When she is not at campus attending class, working as a learning assistant or math tutor, or writing for the University Chronicle, she enjoys volunteering, reading, being overly competitive at board games, and telling horribly funny puns.

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