GO AWAY! The Study Abroad Fair will tell you how and (maybe) where

An earlier Study Abroad Fair

For students considering international study — and about 40 percent of the junior class does go abroad – there’s no substitute for meeting face-to-face with students and program administrators who have been there.

More than 40 of the 250 Brandeis-approved study abroad programs will be on hand, along with students who have returned from overseas, for GO AWAY: The Study Abroad Fair, which takes place Thursday, Sept. 16, 1 to 4 p.m. in Levin Ballroom. The event is sponsored by the Office of Study Abroad.

The application deadline for sophomores to submit proposals for study abroad during junior year is Feb. 15. This fair is designed to help get started reviewing the range of possibilities, making decisions and submitting proposals.

“This is an opportunity to talk in person with people who know the programs well,” says J. Scott Van Der Meid, Assistant Dean of Academic Services and Director of Study Abroad. “Most of the time, people have to use phone and e-mail to look into these programs.”

All types of study abroad opportunities will be represented. “We are heavy on experiential programs, research programs, internships and programs in a foreign language,” says Van Der Meid, who adds that there are also programs in foreign-language countries where classes, some fulfilling distribution requirements, are taught in English.

Attending the Study Abroad Fair can change the trajectory of a college education.

Galen Pardee '11 remembers that when he was a sophomore, majoring in politics and minoring in French, he had assumed he would study in France but going to the fair “did open my mind. It allowed me to see other programs I might not have considered.”

Instead of going to France, Pardee became a Hansard Scholar in London. He describes it as “a well-connected program” because he met many influential figures and learned a lot about the inside workings of government while studying at the London School of Economics and working for a progressive political NGO. After graduating, “I’ll probably end up in Washington,” he says.

Pardee, who is now a student worker in the Office of Study Abroad, says some students talk themselves out of studying abroad because of fear that it will be costly or will get in the way of their fulfilling the requirements of their majors. But, he says, going abroad often “ends up costing about the same amount of money” as being on campus. Some programs are more expensive than others, but he says it’s worth the financial stretch if families can afford it, and for those who can’t, some financial aid is available.

“Some people in the sciences can go abroad,” Pardee adds, “but talk themselves out of it due to course loads.” Fitting all the coursework in can be a challenge, but Pardee encourages students to remember that some of the requirements may be met while taking classes overseas. It takes planning, he says, so “don’t shoot yourself in the foot" by failing to learn which requirements can be met abroad and which have to be fulfilled on campus.

Pardee points out that there are Study Abroad liaisons in each department who will advise which courses to take during the first two years of college, so that it’s possible to go abroad junior year.

“It’s never too early to get classes lined up,” he says.

Study Abroad Director Van Der Meid says that Brandeis sends more students abroad to non-European destinations — Asia, Africa and Latin America — than the national average. He gives a sampling of some of the programs offered:

  • In India, the Contemporary India program helps students “gain access to the best of the local community, India’s academic institutions and research
  • facilities, its rich cultural life, its thriving student scene, and its leading NGOs and multi-nationals.”
  • In France, a Paris internship program puts students to work in their chosen fields while exploring cultural divides.
  • In China, a program provides first-hand encounters with that county’s rapidly changing business environment while offering international business classes in Shanghai.
  • In South Africa, a program answers the call for service to the community with a fully integrated, holistic approach combined with a strong academic component.
  • In Chile, the rapidly changing policies and politics of health care delivery is studied in a multicultural setting where traditional medicine and community empowerment is also explored. 

Pardee encourages students to block out time to go to Thursday’s GO AWAY Study Abroad Fair. “It was a mob scene when I went my sophomore year,” says Pardee. But the fair was helpful, he says, and going abroad itself “was definitely worth the money and the time. I learned a different perspective.”

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