Study abroad fair exhibits workable financing for travel

Allison Wiley

Paying for study abroad programs topped the list of activities Thursday at the 25th Annual International Opportunities Fair.
University students learned about study abroad programs and how to finance them at the fair at Coffman Union. Students learned about international internships, exchanges and work programs by talking to 71 representatives from various international organizations.
“The fair has a festive atmosphere,” said Bill Baldus, director of the International Study and Travel Center, which sponsored the fair. “It’s more of a celebration. I think that it makes it come alive more quickly for students to talk directly with a person about studying abroad, rather than watching videos and reading brochures.”
Baldus said the fair is also a way to build comradery between representatives. In addition to the many representatives from different schools and study abroad programs, the center sponsored some tables to help students with peer advising and financial aid.
Students registered to win a round trip ticket to London and a European rail pass. Baldus said that next year he wants to offer larger prizes because money is the biggest obstacle to student travel.
In addition to representatives from national colleges and universities, recruiters from countries as far as Australia and Ireland attended. Seona Mac Reamoinn from the Irish Student and Youth Travel Service said she has been coming to the travel fair at the University for many years.
“There’s quite a lot of interest in doing international experiences here. Last year we had up to 10 students (from the University) go to Ireland,” she said.
Students could also visit booths and learn about other schools’ programs.
“This is a big deal. I would guess that the University of Minnesota is at least in the top 10 for sending people abroad,” said Troy Peden from the Sann Research Institute in Boulder, Colo. “I think that’s because the University is very progressive with financial aid and because they not only encourage students to go on their programs but other schools’ programs as well.”
Carlson School of Management sophomore Justin Accola, an international business major, attended the fair because he is required to study abroad as part of his curriculum.
“I’m looking at Latin America, hopefully Mexico. The fair has definitely been helpful because I came away with more than I expected to find out,” he said.
College of Liberal Arts junior Rebecca Laitinen studied abroad last year in France and was looking into internships and work programs.
“I would recommend it to anybody, even if they’re not a foreign language major,” she said. “It costs a lot of money, but it’s definitely worth it.”