By Alex Neupert, Sports Editor
The fall semester was well underway as students shuffled through the Millennium Student Center at University of Missouri—St. Louis on September 2. This particular morning, the second floor main hall and rotunda were lined with a dozen tables, showing both new and returning students exciting opportunities for their academic futures. The Study Abroad fair, which the UMSL Study Abroad Office holds every year, showcased the many different programs available to UMSL students.
Students can choose from over 30 countries and over 80 universities around the world through one of three different types of programs: exchange, other (affiliate and non-UMSL) and faculty led. In exchange programs, students are enrolled directly in the foreign university, take classes with local students and stay for either a semester or full year. Most faculty led programs run for two to three weeks during the summer or winter intersession. Non-UMSL programs are distinct from exchange programs because they are organized by private organizations or other universities. Over 20 different programs were on display.
The newest one introduces a new course, PSYCH 4000: Intergroup Relations, to UMSL and will take students on a trip through London and Athens next summer. The course examines the nature of relations between human groups and the psychological mechanisms that drive them. “Students will research cultural and economic influences on social identity in the European Union, comparing the two countries we’ll be visiting,” explained Bettina Casad, PhD, and assistant professor in UMSL’s Department of Psychology, who will lead the program. “[Students] will examine the Greek financial crisis and its effects on the European Union.” She seemed very excited as she struck up a conversation with one of her students.
Nate Daugherty, study abroad and faculty led programs coordinator, looked every bit as enthusiastic as Casad was. He interacted with many of the teachers and students providing information behind the tables, as well as conversed with any students who seemed interested in the plethora of options around the rotunda. Having previously studied abroad in college, in addition to leading many short-term programs himself, Daugherty has lots of perspective on the lessons students can glean from the experience. One of the many obstacles in the way of most students is their own mindset; many believe that if they aren’t in a field related to international relations, a study abroad program won’t benefit them. “In the twenty-first century the world is a small place,” he said. “Even if you never leave St. Louis, you’re still going to interact with people from so many different countries.”
“Two hundred students studied abroad through UMSL last year,” he continued. “That includes one hundred who enrolled in the short term programs.” His expression was clear, though; International Studies and Programs would love to see that number grow and are committed to making it happen. With events like the study abroad fair distributing the information to the student population and previous exchange students sharing their own stories, traveling has never looked so awesome.
The chance to study abroad is an amazing opportunity and not simply only for educational purposes either, as Hannah Stowe, senior, biology, explained. Stowe had previously chosen to take BIO 4905: Field Research class, which provides students the chance to document biodiversity in Guyana for future evaluation of human impact, producing a field notes-like article. Stowe has also been to Russia and Italy on different occasions studying abroad. For her, while the academic experience from the Guyana trip was indispensable, her “more for fun” trips provided something different. “After Guyana, I wanted to travel more and see the world, experience different cultures. It’s a truly foreign experience,” she explained, “and that’s where the value lies.”
While flying overseas to study at a foreign institution seems like a crazy idea, the Study Abroad office, former study abroad students and current exchange students here at UMSL took part Wednesday in showing students the opportunities available to them. Those interested are encouraged to visit the Study Abroad office at room 261 in the MSC as well as online at studyabroad.umsl.edu for more information. Scholarships are available for many of the programs but application deadlines for winter intersession faculty-led courses are coming up towards the end of September.