A world of fun encapsulated at annual Study Abroad Fair

by Morgan Frideres, Assistant Copy Editor

INDIANOLA, Iowa — The Study Abroad Fair on Sept. 20, captured experiences from around the world and brought them to the Great Hall on campus.

Jay Wilkinson, director of international education, organized the fair. Students had the chance to learn about opportunities abroad, sample foods from around the world and view entries from the 2016-2017 school year study abroad photo contest.

“It’s a nice opportunity for a student who doesn’t really know what they want to get out of study abroad to get a taste of the opportunities,” Wilkinson said.

Freshman Blair Glendenning stopped by the fair because she’s interested in taking a May Term trip abroad either her sophomore or junior year.

“It was really fun and cool to see the different foods and experiences other people had,” Glendenning said.

She said participants got to meet the professors leading the courses, received information on how to apply to travel and viewed pictures and displays to help envision the trips.

Simpson offers a variety of abroad programs, including semester-long trips led by a faculty member, semester-long independent opportunities, international student teaching and May Term trips.

Wilkinson is exceptionally excited for three new upcoming May Term trips traveling to Finland, Spain and Little Cayman Island. Finland consistently comes out on top in terms of education and creative teaching, Wilkinson said, and the May Term trip will focus on just that.

“We haven’t had an education-focused May Term for quite a long time, so that’s a new one that I’m very happy about,” Wilkinson said.

The Spain trip will focus on photography, and students going to Little Cayman Island will learn about coral reefs and marine biology.

“Rehmeier and Meyer have led many environmental science courses together, but this is a new location and they’re very excited about it, too,” Wilkinson said.

The two professors received a travel course development grant, so they were able to go to the research station where the group will go, and Wilkinson said they were very pleased with what they saw there and the opportunities for students.

Three popular courses are returning this May Term with students exploring New Zealand, Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic.

The New Zealand course went for the first time in 2016 with a focus on sports and recreation, along with sports science. Wilkinson said the course trip was very popular that year, and he anticipates a very strong interest again.

He said the ethics of ecotourism course in Costa Rica is a regular course that is consistently popular, and the course about inequality in the Dominican Republic will be the fifth time it’s been offered.

Wilkinson encourages students to study abroad and said around 35 percent of students study abroad sometime during their time at Simpson.

“I myself had a very transformative experience studying abroad and I hear those kinds of stories from so many people,” Wilkinson said. “It opens the world to students when they go and learn about another culture and another place.”

Senior Kyle Hovey took a May Term trip his sophomore year to France that focused on turning points in French history and said it was eye-opening to see another country and culture.

“It was a good experience just to see a different part of the world and especially for me to get out of the Midwest,” Hovey said. “That’s where I’ve been my whole life, so just seeing a different culture is really cool and it’s just fun to try something different.”

In addition to experiencing a new country, Wilkinson said studying abroad also helps develop certain skills employers are looking for, including problem solving skills, adaptability and cross cultural understanding.

Students interested in studying abroad can apply online, where they have to fill out some basic information about themselves, select the course they want to apply for, write a 500-word essay explaining why they’re interested in the experience and submit three documents: a copy of their degree audit, proof they paid the $200 deposit fee to the Registrar’s Office and a copy of the photo page from their passport or paperwork to get one.

The semester-long programs have a couple additional steps, which require references and a 15-minute interview.

Though the cost may throw some students off at first, Wilkinson said he thinks students should still consider applying for a study abroad program. He also reminds students that there are a few scholarships opportunities for those who wish to travel.

Two scholarships students can apply for include the Dr. Joe Walt International Education Scholarship and the Gilman International Scholarship.

Applications for May Term study abroad trips and scholarships are due Tuesday, and students can only apply for one course at a time. Any questions regarding international travel can be directed toward Wilkinson at [email protected]