On October 4, a record-breaking 1500+ students attended the annual Study Abroad Fair on the University of Arizona Mall. The atmosphere was teeming with excitement as students made their way through the serpentine array of tables, each staffed with an eager program leader ready to promote their unique opportunities. Its convenient location in the heart of campus made it easy for students to come by, check out the booths, and learn about countless study abroad opportunities.
UA Study Abroad, located on the first floor of the UA Global Center, houses multiple advisors who help facilitate the search and application process for students interested in studying abroad. The department connects Wildcats with resources and information to hundreds of programs in almost every field of study, located in over 60 countries around the world.
“I studied abroad last fall. It was life-changing,” said Mia Drake, a senior communications major. “As cheesy as it sounds, I never thought I could see the world in that light.”
One of the common misconceptions held by many students is that these “life-changing” experiences are only for those majoring in the arts and languages. Some students pursuing careers in STEM may shy away from the opportunity due to the perceived difficulty or unattainability of completing their necessary coursework. However, through this fair, hundreds of students learned how a study abroad experience is not limited to any major or time frame.
“I didn’t realize it was possible to get some of my upper division stem requirements like biochemistry and some upper division life science electives that I can apply to my major,” said Airen Fortunado, a junior studying neuroscience and cognitive science.
UA Study Abroad has worked for decades on adding multiple programs to the curriculum that allow students to work around their degree maps and graduation goals. These programs can range from one week to one academic year, depending on a student’s personal goals.
“I have been taking students to Mexico for 35 years to enjoy and learn about the history, the culture, how the educational system works, and most of all to make the students fall in love with Mexico,” said Todd Fletcher, associate professor in the College of Education, who has been operating the Verano in Mexico program since 1986. “It is a complete experience; it gives them a taste of Mexico.”
Instead of visiting a country as a tourist, students are given guidance and support as they venture to global destinations located on almost every continent. While studying abroad, students become immersed in diverse cultures and truly get to experience the different realities that people live in around the world.
“The goals of study abroad are to give students the opportunity to step outside of their usual comfort zone, to see other cultures, and immerse themselves in other languages and other ways of living on the planet,” said Harmony DeFazio, executive director of UA Study Abroad. “There’s a lot of personal growth that comes with that and awareness of how we are all connected. It is also a really good opportunity for professional growth, focus, and academic growth. Our goal is that they come back changed, that they grow, and that they become global citizens.”
Some students may believe that traveling abroad is financially out of reach, but DeFazio is working to change that perception. “Study abroad is for everyone, every single student,” she said. “With our study abroad programs, our students can pay their U of A tuition and access the same scholarships that they would have here. We also have a lot of scholarships that we are promoting that are specific to study abroad. Financially, we do our very best to make it accessible,” said DeFazio.
So, what can a student do to start their study abroad journey? Jacob Eavis, a study abroad recruitment manager says, “Start planning early, talk to your academic advisor, talk to the financial aid office, and then come talk to the study abroad office, and we'll find the perfect program for you.”
To learn more about the amazing opportunities awaiting you through the study abroad program, visit our UA Study Abroad page.