An expansive white tent roofed dozens of fold-out tables, each bearing the flag of a different nation, offering UF sophomore Emily Fletcher a sea of choices.
Fletcher, 19, a statistics major, was among hundreds of UF students who came to the Plaza of the Americas Jan. 27 to explore her options at the spring 2016 Study Abroad Fair. The fair, hosted by UF’s International Center, showcased opportunities from around the world for students seeking an enriching cultural experience and heightened global awareness.
“So many students are interested in studying abroad,” Fletcher said. “I could be travelling with anyone here and making memories with them.”
Program directors, providers and former study abroad students were at the fair to share their international experiences and to help students begin finding the right program. Other universities and institutions that sponsor UF-approved opportunities also were there.
Austin Bracey, a 21-year-old chemical engineer, shared some of the benefits of his study abroad opportunity in Lima, Peru.
“This experience gave me the confidence to travel alone to places I would have never gone to before,” he said.
At first, Bracey said, he had trouble finding a travel abroad opportunity that pertained to his major. He said this challenge, in addition to the time commitment to a five-year major, can make it difficult for UF to convince engineering students to travel.
But 18-year-old business management student Kevin Rivera said UF’s International Center is tackling this problem head on, providing resources to make his goal to study abroad a reality.
“You’re not here for one major,” he said. “You’re here to educate yourself on how the world works.”
The Center has helped Rivera do just that with a new program called Learning Without Borders. Educating students on global awareness through certificate coursework, language learning, civic engagement and study abroad opportunities, this program is just one of many showcased at the Study Abroad Fair.
This past year, more than 2,000 UF students studied abroad in Europe, Central and South America and the Middle East, according to the International Center. Students interested in learning more are encouraged to stop by the International Center, 1765 Stadium Road, Suite 170 HUB.
“Get outside of the dorm and the study room,” Rivera said. “You become a more enlightened individual by doing more than your major requires.”