Annual international fair opens doors for students

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Written by Cameron Sada

Whether it’s your first year in college or your fifth degree, the desire to have a unique experience is within all. On Jan. 29, 2014 students and volunteers took time out of their days to find out about study abroad opportunities from the University of Nebraska at Omaha at the study abroad fair held in the Milo Bail Student Center.
Emily Hassenstab, who has been manager of abroad and global partnerships for four years, said about 80 to 100 students usually attend the spring fair.
The study abroad fairs are hosted twice a year — once in the fall and the spring.
There were 30 tables at the fair, but according to Hassenstab they represented a small selection of the programs available to UNO students.
“We actually probably have thousands of opportunities with all the different programs our third-party providers offer,” Hassenstab said.
The opportunities shown to students include faculty-led exchanges, third-party exchanges, as well as direct exchanges with partner schools all over the world. These exchanges included schools in Ireland, China, Peru, Finland and many other nations.
With big opportunities, there often come big expenses. According to Erin Moran, financial aid counselor at UNO, there are many ways to finance an academic trip abroad.
“There are different kinds of programs,” Moran said. “Those that are billed directly through UNO, most financial aid will apply towards that. They can also use the federal financial aid for the remote hour programs and the UNO programs.”
Many of the exchange programs have access to grants. In addition, some host schools will pay for some of your expenses. The exchange internship program to Xi’an, China pays for roundtrip airfare, language and cultural classes, furnished accommodations, a smart phone for local use and a monthly stipend.
A third party organization called American Institute for Foreign Study (AIF) is currently giving out grants for art majors. They also have many other grants and scholarships available through them.
The benefits from exchanges varied for the 400 UNO students studying abroad last year.
“We have recently signed a commitment through the institute of international education to double our study abroad numbers,” Hassenstab said. “From the year we based that off of, it will be about 560 students. That’s our goal by 2016-2017.”
UNO also usually has about 90 international students in any given academic year.
Dominique Worthing- a 2013 UNO graduate who studied at Yeungnma University in Gyeongsan, South Korea- said she benefited greatly from her exchange. She learned about herself and living in a busier city.
“It’s really hard coming from Omaha because we are a larger city, especially for the state. We like to think of ourselves as cosmopolitan; like ‘oh, we know stuff,’” Worthing said. “But you don’t know anything until you are in Seoul at two in the morning and you have to find a place to stay, and you don’t speak the language. It’s just an amazing life skill to have.”
Roxy Keller, assistant professor in the biology department, takes a class to Belize that is focused on the biodiversity in that country.
“This gives students an opportunity to travel to another part of the world,” Keller said. “My hope, my overall interest is making students aware of issues like conservation.”
Students can contact Emily Hassenstab at ehassenstab@unomaha.edu for questions or set up an appointment to discuss study abroad options.

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