Monday, October 17, 2016

Part IV of A Year in the Life of a Study Abroad Applicant: Getting Ready for the Study Abroad Fair

Hey Tulane! 

Fall break was SO relaxing for me, and I hope it was for you too. I managed to catch up on some homework, see family, experience cold weather (since it’s still summer here…) and make a plan for the study abroad fair. Elsewhere on the blog, the Office of Study Abroad put together some super-helpful tips about how to make the most of the study abroad fair. Hundreds of students attend the fair every year, so I want to make sure I stay focused while I’m there!

Last time I posted, I had just written down my list of programs that really meet what I’m looking for in a study abroad experience: Language & Cultural immersion, Courses in my Major, & located in Latin America. Some of the programs are direct enrollment – like ITAM in Mexico City and Universidad San Francisco de Quito in Quito, Ecuador. When I get to the fair, I’ll try to find out if there are students who have gone on those programs that I can talk to. Then, since the program in Havana, Cuba is actually run by Tulane, I will be able to meet with the Tulane faculty and staff that do research and programming there. The Cuba program will have its own table so I think there will be a lot of people to talk to.

Most of the programs I found, though, are run by program providers who will have representatives at the fair to talk to us about everything they offer. So, over fall break I spent a lot of time on the program provider websites: CIEE; IFSA-Butler; and Middlebury. Their websites are so comprehensive and gave me a good sense of the types of courses each offers and the universities that they are all affiliated with. ALL of these programs have one thing in common: everything is in Spanish! From coursework to housing to handling paperwork, I will be speaking Spanish all the time. This is probably one of the most important elements of my future study abroad program. Knowing that they all meet that criteria, though, I’m looking forward to the study abroad fair so I can talk to students about what it was like to actually live in all of these different cities and to take classes at the universities there.

It makes a lot of sense to talk to former students. It’s just like when I talk to high school juniors and seniors as a Green Wave Ambassador when they come to campus. They want to know what being a Tulanian is like from the perspective of someone who is living it! And why not? After all, finding the right place to spend four years is a big decision, and so is deciding where to spend an entire semester abroad. Talking to returned study abroad students is basically the same thing. I came up with a list of questions so I wouldn’t get sidetracked at the fair:
  • What is the city like? Is it big and loud? How does it compare to New   Orleans
  • What about the university? Do professors interact a lot with students? Could you understand their accents?
  • How did you make friends? Did you join any clubs or student groups?
  • How did you immerse yourself in the host country?
  • Where did you travel to from that city? Was it easy to get around?
  • Was there anything you wish you knew before you went?

I mostly think I’m ready and I have one more tip for those of you that are planning to attend! When you first get to the fair, you’ll receive a printed map showing where everyone is at all the different tables. So when I get that map, I’ll know exactly where to go!

Hope to see ya’ll on Wednesday and at all the other awesome International Education Week events happening all over campus!