By: Daria Sokolova
The biannual Study Abroad Fair organized by the Office of International Programs and Study Abroad took place Oct. 2 at Fainman Lounge, where Roosevelt students had a chance to learn about new destinations offered by various academic and non-profit organizations from across the country.
Justin Osadjan, the director of International Programs at Roosevelt University, said he is hoping to increase the number of Roosevelt students participating in international programs.
“My office is in charge of many things, and one of them is working with Roosevelt University students who want to study abroad as part of their academic career,” Osadjan said. “We have a number of students who study abroad each semester, and we are interested in increasing those numbers.”
To send students overseas, the Office of International Programs and Study Abroad partners with national and foreign organizations and academic institutions.
Osadjan said introducing students to the national organizations that offer study abroad programs is one of the best ways to get the information about those programs in students’ hands.
“Exchange programs are agreements Roosevelt has in place with universities around the world where we will send a Roosevelt University student,” Osadjan said. “In exchange, we get a student from that university in Chicago to fill the shoes of our student.”
As Roosevelt’s Office of International Programs and Study Abroad doesn’t have the exchange agreements in every country, it partners with national organizations that have a greater scope of study abroad programs.
According to Osadjan, Roosevelt University has partnerships with 15 organizations in the U.S. that offer trips where students can spend a semester or an academic year while living and learning in another country.
One of these organizations is Vermont-based “World Learning” that presented its School for International Training (SIT) Study Abroad that helps students to learn about critical global issues in different parts of the world.
“Like a lot of organizations, we have sites all over the world, but there are several things that we do [that] are kind of unique,” said Benjamin Efird, relations manager for SIT’s Midwest region. “We are big on experiential learning: We think language acquisition is important, we think it’s important students live with close families so they can really dive into the culture. One of the most unique components we have in all our programs is an independent study project: All of our students are taking a Research Methods and Ethics course and narrowing on an academic topic or an area of interest and [they] end up doing a research project for their entire last month in a country.”
Efird said SIT Study Abroad has been at the previous fairs at the university and wants to interest more Roosevelt students, as social justice is incorporated in all of SIT’s programs.
“We focus on critical global issues,” Efird explained. “We are looking at everything from a broad interdisciplinary angle of gender rights and gender and education systems, social movements, peace and conflict issues, post-conflict transformations. We put the human perspective into all our programs for students.”
Accounting freshman Alexa Tapias said she was looking at Roosevelt’s programs in Colombia and Turkey.
“I just want to go explore, expand my horizons a bit and that’s basically why I want to do it,” Tapias said. “I’ve traveled outside the U.S. a lot, and that makes me want to do it even more.”
The Study Abroad Fair takes place twice in the academic year, as the Office of International Programs and Study Abroad continues to build partnerships with new organizations nationally and around the globe.
“We do a fair each semester,” Osadjan said. “It’s generally in early October and again, sometime in late February or March.”
Brittany Palmer, admissions representative of “Semester at Sea,” a study abroad program operated by the University of Virginia, said their program is becoming more popular in the Chicago area.
“We are a little bit different because we are a comparative learning organization,” Palmer said. “You go to many different countries rather than just spending the whole semester in one,” Palmer said.
According to Osadjan, The Office of International Programs and Study Abroad sends 10-15 students to different countries each semester. Roosevelt students can choose from a variety of long-term as well as short-term programs.
“Each semester, we have other students who go study abroad on what we call faculty-led trips,” Osadjan said. “Faculty-led trips are where a Roosevelt professor will organize a class and that class includes about a week and a half of international travel. Students will study theory in a classroom, and they see what they have studied by travelling overseas,” Osadjan said.
As Osadjan said, within Roosevelt exchange programs, London Metropolitan University and University of Sussex have been two of the most popular ones. The Office of International Programs and Study Abroad has recently added a few new opportunities for Roosevelt students.
“We have seen a lot of increased interest in the exchange program we have with KwaZulu-Natal University in South Africa,” Osadjan added. “We have one student studying there right now and several more students have expressed interest in going there in spring 2014. South Africa has turned into an exciting option for many students.”
The Office of International Programs and Study Abroad provides Roosevelt students with opportunities of studying in England, Tanzania, Spain, China, Germany and many other countries. The office is located in AUD 124.