Italy, Israel and England are just some of the countries to be represented at Binghamton University this Friday at the Study Abroad Fair.
About 15 schools, most from the SUNY system, will be presenting a number of study abroad programs at the fair, which will take place from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in the Mandela Room in the Old University Union.
There are currently 550 programs available through the SUNY system according to Katharine Krebs, vice provost for International Affairs at BU.
‘The biggest improvement in studying abroad is the number of Binghamton programs,’ Krebs said. ‘Fifteen years ago we maybe had six or seven BU programs and now we have about 30. The same thing happened on other campuses.’
Organizers expect between 700 and 900 people to attend the fair, with the target audience being freshmen and sophomores.
According to Susan Lewis, senior assistant director of International Programs, the fair is mainly for students who want to study abroad in a year, but still may allow time for students who decide now that they want to study abroad in the spring.
Pedro Di Pietro, assistant director for Study Abroad, advises students to come not only to conduct research about programs, but to learn from face-to-face contact.
‘Many advisers from schools are willing to guide you over the phone, but there’s nothing like that face-to-face interaction,’ Di Pietro said.
Lewis said the real benefit of the fair is to speak with people from other SUNY schools who know their program in detail.
‘Through the SUNY-wide consortium, students really have the whole world at their fingertips,’ Lewis said.
Volunteers from past programs will help staff the fair, along with Baxter the Bearcat, who will be there to ‘internationalize the Bearcats,’ Di Pietro said.
‘I think the wonderful thing about the Study Abroad Fair is that students can talk to past participants, so part of the value of going is that they can learn about their experiences,’ Krebs said. ‘A second value is that you see so many options and opportunities laid out before you.’
The layout of the event will be arranged by continent and by type of program. There will also be an area for winter and summer programs specifically, Di Pietro said.
‘Maybe students are interested in a certain country, there is also a learning-by-doing option where they can do experiential programs,’ Di Pietro said.
Lewis said students should not be intimidated by studying abroad.
‘Any major at Binghamton should be able to study abroad and transfer those credits for their major,’ Lewis said. ‘ If they want to just come and browse and see how much is out there, they might find programs that they weren’t aware of.’
Lewis also suggests students visit the SUNY system website beforehand to research programs in order to help them focus further at the fair.
According to Di Pietro, close to 20 percent of BU students study abroad, the highest percentage among the SUNY schools. Currently, BU students travel to between 25 and 35 countries a year.
Krebs hopes these numbers continue to expand.
‘Study abroad is a fabulous experience to explore a different part of the world,’ Krebs said. ‘Part of it is the wonderful adventure, but living with a culture that’s different is really great preparation for careers. We want every Binghamton student to have this opportunity.’