Studying abroad was not feasible for political science senior Emily Skidmore, but she was not willing to forego an overseas experience.
Instead, she went to STA Travel in Coffman Union – which branch manager Taylor Thomas said is designed to find special contracted fares for students – and purchased tickets to Italy.
“Traveling offers another perspective,” Skidmore said. “It gives you firsthand experience rather than just reading a book.”
The Learning Abroad Center and STA Travel both help University students travel and work abroad.
STA Travel contracts flights through major airlines, then offers the discounted flights to students with an international travel card, Thomas said.
International travel cards – which cost $22 and are available to all students – give access to student fares and other benefits, including passport replacement and discounts on attractions, transportation and lodging.
“On average, a student can save around 10 to 20 percent on accommodations and possibly save up to $500 on airfare,” Thomas said.
This year, Global Campus, which formerly dealt only with study abroad programs, merged with the International Service and Travel Center, which provides information on working, volunteering and interning abroad.
The new department, called the Learning Abroad Center, is a resource students can use to research internships, working and studying abroad.
“One of the reasons for the merger was to include all opportunities in one place,” said Martha Johnson, Learning Abroad Center program director.
For students looking for an escape from Minnesota, both offices offer a variety of options.
In addition to inexpensive trips to places such as Las Vegas, London and Mexico, STA Travel also provides resources for students interested in working and volunteering abroad, which Thomas said “are really good ways to see a place, make some money and get around.”
While STA Travel can only book travel arrangements, the Learning Abroad Center provides applications for work visas, which generally cost between $400 and $500, Johnson said.
That price includes orientations and on-site meetings in the country, where students learn about job opportunities, housing options and how to pay taxes.
“It’s really nice to have that support system when you arrive,” Johnson said.
The center also supplies travel research material, safety information and advice from staff members’ experiences abroad.
Johnson said students interested in working abroad can also teach English in Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe.
“All you need is a college degree,” Johnson said.
Most English teaching programs require applying in January or February to start at the beginning of September.
School and excitement
While some students only travel and work, recreation senior Erica Askelson merged the two.
In spring 2001, she went on a two-and-a-half-month program to New Zealand and Australia through Pacific Challenge.
The program offers students an adventure-travel program with the option of taking classes through Winona State University or the University of Oregon-Eugene.
“I had the most amazing experiences, some of which people never do in a lifetime,” Askelson said.