U expo to showcase study abroad options

Ed Swaray

A three-day international conference to integrate study abroad experience into undergraduate coursework will take place from Thursday to Saturday at the University.

“The goal is to give students the opportunity to find the right study abroad program that fits their personal, academic and career plans,” said Santiago Fernandez-Gimenez, the curriculum integration communications manager for the Learning Abroad Center.

More than 400 people from 120 colleges, universities and study abroad programs are expected to attend.

Fernandez-Gimenez said faculty and advisers from 204 majors on all four University campuses have matched specific study abroad programs with curriculum requirements for different majors.

Lynn Anderson, director of curriculum integration, said the conference is a culmination of three years of grant-sponsored work.

“We included this dissemination conference to share our methodology, successes and challenges,” she said, “so that participants can learn how we got here and take away approaches that will help their institutions define or redefine their goals and move forward.”

Former Vice President Walter Mondale will deliver the keynote address for the conference Thursday evening.

Study abroad programs give students a life-changing and enriching experience, Anderson said.

Students mature, learn to appreciate cultural diversity and develop the ability to deal with ambiguity while they study abroad, she said.

When journalism junior Sarah Saline left her niche in the Twin Cities to study in Spain last spring, it was a whole new experience, she said.

“I learned more about what people outside of the United States think about us,” she said.

Saline said there are no significant drawbacks to studying abroad. Once someone does it, he or she will be inclined to do it again, she said.

Anderson said about 6,000 University students have inquired about study abroad programs so far this year.

The number of University students currently studying abroad is 1,159.