Sept. 4, 2009
PHOTOS: (Top photo, left) UI senior Suzanne Wedeking barters with a man selling jewelry in the High Atlas Mountains in Morocco; (middle photo, right) UI student Suzanne Wedeking plays in an orchestra called, "Philharmonique du Maroc" in Morocco; (bottom photo, left): UI student Suzanne Wedeking visits the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca, Morocco.
UI Study Abroad Fair features opportunities for students Sept. 15
For University of Iowa senior Suzanne Wedeking, studying abroad was not only a chance for her to grow academically with her study of Arabic, but it helped her grow as a person.
"It definitely had its challenges but it helped me be more patient," Wedeking said. "It helps you to be a more understanding person."
The Des Moines native, who studied abroad in Morocco through the UI's Office for Study Abroad from August 2008 to May 2009, is one of the nearly 1,300 students who studied abroad last year, but one of only a few who did so in Northern Africa. Students who want to learn more are encouraged to attend the UI Study Abroad Fair from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 15, on the second floor of the University Capitol Centre in the Old Capitol Town Center. It is free and open to the public.
Wedeking, who is majoring in international studies and violin performance in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, said study abroad challenges students and helps push them out of their comfort zone.
"Having a significant amount of Arabic proficiency will help me in the career fields I might enter because of the United States' interactions with many Arabic speaking countries," Wedeking said.
The 23-year-old, who works as a peer advisor in the UI Office for Study Abroad, hopes to return to Morocco and reunite with her host family in the next few years. She is considering living and working abroad permanently and hopes to find a career that combines her interests in music and international studies.
This year's fair will feature hundreds of study abroad programs. Students who have studied abroad as well as study abroad advisors and peer advisors, program directors and financial aid advisors, will be available to answer questions.
Attendees will also have an opportunity to learn more about the significantly expanded winter session programs available for study abroad. This winter, students have a chance to study in Brazil, India, St. Lucia and, through new programs, in England, Greece, Japan and Tanzania.
Fair attendees will have a chance to win door prizes including scholarships for study abroad, gift certificates to local travel agencies and others.
"Study abroad is important because it enhances a student's education regardless of what discipline they're studying," said Janis Perkins, director of the UI Office for Study Abroad. "It really changes a person in a very positive and significant way."
Majors with the highest percentage of students studying abroad (more than 50 percent study abroad as an undergraduate) include Asian language and literature, classical languages, French, German, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish and international studies. Other academic areas where student involvement in study abroad is high (35 to 50 percent participation) are civil engineering, art, environmental sciences and linguistics. Students from 64 different undergraduate majors studied abroad in 2007-08.
For the past 15 years, the number of students studying abroad has steadily increased. Today, one in five UI students studies abroad at some point in his or her academic career, Perkins said. In 2007-08, the most recent year for which data is available, 1,218 UI students studied abroad. Perkins said the 2008-09 numbers are closer to 1,300 but will not be confirmed until later this fall.
While the United Kingdom and Spain continue to be the most popular destinations, Perkins said a growing number of students are interested in traveling to India and China.
Perkins said there hasn't been a drop in student interest in study abroad, but more students withdrew after acceptance to study abroad programs this summer and fall because of financial concerns. She said more students are also choosing shorter and less expensive programs, like those offered during the winter sessions.
She invites students with financial worries to attend the fair, where they can learn about the approximately $750,000 in scholarships available for study abroad this year.
"Study abroad is a valuable experience," Perkins said. "Students tend to see a lot of personal development."
For more information about study abroad opportunities or to make an appointment with a study abroad advisor, contact the Office for Study Abroad, 1111 University Capitol Centre, 319-335-0353, or visit http://international.uiowa.edu/study-abroad.
The UI Office for Study Abroad is part of the UI International Programs. For more information, visit http://intl-programs.uiowa.edu/ or call 319-353-2700. International Programs is part of the UI Office of the Provost.
STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500