Study abroad fair season is upon us. Typically, if you were interested in studying abroad you would attend a study abroad fair on your campus, speak with a USAC representative and get your journey started. But what does fair season look like amid COVID-19? Just like every other in-person event, study abroad fairs are going virtual.
To understand what a virtual study abroad fair looks like, what questions you should bring to your virtual fair to get your study abroad experience started, and how you can start planning to study abroad, we spoke with Katelyn Armbruster and Rachel Hardison on the USAC Students Beyond Borders study abroad podcast. Kate and Rachel are members of our University Relations team. Usually, they’d be traveling around the U.S. right now working study abroad fairs, but this fall you’ll be able to connect with them virtually, along with the rest of our University Relations team staff. You can listen to the full episode and get tips for starting your study abroad journey below:
New Initiatives to Help Students Study Abroad
USAC Info Sessions
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USAC and universities are offering a variety of new initiatives to help you start your study abroad journey. USAC is offering daily info sessions that are being led by our student advising team and our university relations team.
- Info sessions are held daily
- Choose between program specific or general USAC 101 info sessions
- Attend more than one session
- Info sessions are 15-30 minutes long
- A live Q&A will take place at the end of each info session
- Get the schedule and sign up on the USAC info session website.
You ca always set up a personal advising session with a USAC program advisor by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
University Virtual Study Abroad Fairs
Many universities are holding virtual events and study abroad fairs to help you plan your study abroad. Every school is different but generally this consists of Zoom sessions, webinars, interactive websites, and Q&A sessions with different study abroad organizations.
We encourage you to reach out to your school’s study abroad office or research the website to learn about virtual fair offerings. Many schools are providing specific times for students to chat with USAC representatives.
What questions should you bring to a virtual fair?
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Whether you’re attending a study abroad fair in person or virtually, you might be wondering what questions you can bring in order to have a successful conversation with a study abroad representative. The answer is, all the questions!
Our team members are there to answer ANY question you might have about studying abroad. With that said, here are the most common things to think about:
- Finances – ask us about pricing, scholarships, financial aid, budgeting, etc.
- Academics – ask us how rigorous the courses are, what they’re like, what types of courses we offer for you major.
- Specific opportunities – ask us about internships, volunteering, living with a host family or any other specific opportunity you’re hoping to have when you study abroad.
- Area of study needs – ask us if we offer specific classes you need to take abroad in order to stay on track with your major.
- What do you want to get out of your study abroad? – Ask us about what’s important to you. Whether it’s being in a small city where no one speaks English, living with other USAC students, be able to travel every weekend to saving money, think about what your study abroad experience looks like, and ask us how we can make it happen.
- Be open-minded – We love a student who knows exactly what they want and where they want to go, but being open-minded can lead to discovering amazing classes in unique places you hadn’t thought of.
How can you find out what’s happening on your campus?
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Being at home can make you feel pretty disconnected from what’s happening on campus. If you’re looking to find what is happening on your campus for study abroad take the following steps:
- Check your university website and particularly the study abroad website
- Visit your school’s social media pages. Many universities have a social media page for their study abroad office
- Reach out to us and we can help you
Our best advice for students getting started with study abroad
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If you’re just getting started with your study abroad journey and don’t really know where to start. We’ve got you covered. Here are some tips:
- Check in with your study abroad office
- Meet with your academic advisor
- Attend any events being held by your school or third-party organizations like USAC
- Email us to set up an advising session
- Collect as much information as you can, speak to as many people as you can.
“If you want some advice from me, what I would do personally is really close your eyes and just take a minute and try and visualize yourself abroad. Where are you? What are you doing? What are you tasting? Who are you talking to? Are you speaking in a different language? What do you see for yourself? I think part of a study abroad is really getting out what you want from it. And it can be pretty overwhelming.
There are so many different opportunities and understanding what your goals are and what you’re aiming to do abroad is a good start because you can start filtering out what programs don’t make sense for you right off of the bat, and getting to the good parts quicker. Think inward first before making any, big decisions,” Katelyn Armbruster.
If you’re ready to get started with study abroad, visit our website.