The Lehigh Study Abroad Office hosted its annual fair on Thursday, where students explored over 200 programs and met with representatives to discuss their interests in various global opportunities.
Many students decide to study abroad as undergraduates because it offers a global perspective, hands-on international experience and a chance to a live in a completely different setting.
“I want to study abroad because I have always had a strong interest in experiencing other cultures,” Emma Bolla, ’16, said. “By studying abroad, I will get to immerse myself in a new culture, meet new people and have entirely new experiences.”
The opportunities presented at the fair, as well as on the Lehigh Study Abroad website, have multiple deadlines. The deadline for the Winter 2014-2015 and Spring 2015 programs are approaching in early October. For the rest of the programs, deadlines are rolling, so students can start planning their abroad experiences early on.
“Even though I had an idea of a couple programs I was interested in, the fair gave me a chance to actually talk to those running them,” Sean Jensen, ’16, said. “I learned details that I wouldn’t necessarily get out of a brochure or website. Now, I am able to choose how I’m going to spend my next semester with confidence.”
There are certain GPA requirements for each study abroad program. However, all students can petition if necessary. According to Study Abroad Adviser Noel Panebianco, with the variety of study abroad opportunities provided at Lehigh, as long as the students meet eligibility requirements and apply early, it is very rare for them to not able to find a program.
A common misconception many students have is that only certain majors can go abroad, particularly those in the College of Arts and Sciences.
“There is a program out there for everyone so long as you plan and apply early,” Panebianco said. “We have sent all majors abroad, including athletes, Greeks, student government (members) and those with other needs and obligations.”
Students across all disciplines, whether within the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Business and Economics or the College of Engineering can apply and benefit from all Lehigh study abroad programs.
Besides school faculty and program partners, Lehigh students who previously went abroad through Lehigh programs also participated in the fair to share their experiences with their peers.
“I have been to the Caribbean to perform community service in Antigua and Malaysia with my Global Citizenship cohort, Cambodia for a group internship through the Lee Iacocca Program and Uganda twice for Sustainable Development and independent research,” Haley Maruschak, ’15, said. “I am an anthropology major, interested in pursuing a career in human rights, and my abroad experiences have given the ability to implement my in-classroom material to the field.
“My abroad experiences have helped me find my true calling in life, and I cannot wait to make an impact with my career for the benefit of others through continuing my work as a Lehigh alum.”
Lehigh also offers funding and scholarships to students who are interested in studying abroad. There are certain programs that are fully funded, such as the Iacocca Internship Program or the Tauck Scholarship Program, for students who express exceptional academic achievement and extracurricular activities.
Students that want to study abroad must complete a mandatory “Get Started” session, which is offered both online and on Wednesdays at 4 p.m. in Lamberton Hall. This is a change in procedure since students were previously required to attend the session in person before scheduling an appointment with a study abroad adviser.
“The idea behind this is that we want students to get the basic information and come in to see us as soon as possible,” Panebianco said. “The mandatory 4 p.m. in-person sessions were often problematic for groups like student athletes, and we’re trying to fix that.”