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Students browse travel opportunities at study abroad fair

Crowds of students came steadily in and out of the Memorial Union Building’s (MUB) Granite State Room (GSR) last Thursday, Feb. 2, talking animatedly about where they want to travel in the near future.

The Center for International Education and Global Engagement (CIEGE) hosted the 2017 Study Abroad Fair from 11 a.m.- 2 p.m., and according to colorful posters that were spotted around campus leading up to the event, over 65 countries and 500 programs were represented there.      According to Theresa Zellem, a CIEGE program assistant, he goal of the fair is to “promote study abroad” and “[to] get info out and let students know that it’s a viable option.” At the start of the fair, Zellem said she estimated that over 500 students would attend the event.

It was apparent that students had different reasons for attending the fair. Some, like Leah Wytas, a freshman who’s unsure when she wants to travel, came “to get options of what’s out there.” Wytas held so many study abroad pamphlets that it looked like some were about to fall out of her arms. Others had different objectives for being there, like learning more about getting a passport or financial aid.

The room was filled with over 50 booths, all with general information about study abroad, study away, UNH Managed and other UNH approved programs. Stacks of glossy pamphlets and brochures, along with free giveaways such as luggage tags with company names, filled the tables.

New to the fair this year was a table set up by one of the study abroad providers, Academic Studies Abroad (ASA), which offered free passport photos for interested students. Cayleigh McCarthy, a programs advisor at ASA, took the photos and helped man the booth.

“We [ASA] wanted to give an opportunity for students in a one-stop shop [like the fair]. Passport photos are the first step to studying abroad. Getting passport photos taken could light the fire for students to want to travel,” McCarthy said.

According to Zellem, there were more study abroad providers present at this fair in comparison to those of previous years. New programs, including one in Greece through the College of Liberal Arts (COLA) and another at Shanghai International Studies University through the UNH International Exchange Program, were being advertised to students.

Faculty members, representatives from third-party programs, students who had attended certain programs and CIEGE Global Ambassadors staffed the booths the filled the fair. CIEGE Ambassadors are returned students who volunteered to answer prospective students’ questions and share information regarding their time abroad. One such ambassador was UNH junior Kellie Reardon, who went to Rome last summer and chose to become an ambassador, in hopes of sharing her experience with others.

“I was lucky to meet many locals on the program I went on, and found that to be valuable in learning about Italian culture,” Reardon said. “I wanted to tell people back home how important it is to become immersed in wherever you travel.”

A small section of the room was dedicated to other January term (J-Term) opportunities.

One such booth in that section was that for the January-term cruise ship management course, which revolves around a 14-day cruise to places like Puerto Rico, St. Thomas and Antigua. Students in this program learn about hospitality management on the ship and at the places they travel to. UNH seniors Jen DeLucia and Trisha Crowe, who recently took the course, were there to answer questions from prospective attendees and interested faculty members. While the program is offered through the business school, all UNH students who meet the eligibility requirements can enroll.

“[The program was] a big reason why I came to UNH. Who wouldn’t want to take a cruise?” Crowe said. “It was a great substitute for me as I did not have time to study abroad.”

Both DeLucia and Crowe emphasized both how much they learned and how relaxing the trip was for them. They both said that their favorite part of the experience was visiting St. Maarten, where they took a catamaran boat ride, snorkeled and went to the beach.

Also advocating for traveling were some faculty members, such as Katya Burvikova, a lecturer of Russian. Burvikova said that it’s important for students to know about different cultures and for them to open their eyes to other ways of life. She also said she thinks “students who go abroad grow more mature, gain self-confidence and eventually learn more about themselves and the world around them.”

Study Abroad advisor Leo Meijer recommended that students with any interest in studying or interning abroad visit the CIEGE office in Hood House. CIEGE routinely matches students with programs and gives them suggestions on how to fund their time away from Durham. UNH offices and some program providers offer scholarships for which students are able to apply.

According to multiple faculty members, there was an overall good turnout for the fair. Crowds appeared to thin as the event went into its final hour, but if this year’s fair is any indication, the CIEGE is well on the way to spreading the merits of travel around the university.

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