On Wednesday, Portland State’s Office of International Affairs hosted its annual study abroad fair so that students could learn about internships, volunteer opportunities and study abroad options open to PSU students.
On Wednesday, Portland State’s Office of International Affairs hosted its annual study abroad fair so that students could learn about internships, volunteer opportunities and study abroad options open to PSU students. In addition, they could meet with representatives from internship programs and organizations like the Peace Corps and the World Affairs Council.
Alyce Collins, the education abroad adviser, said more students should take advantage of the many study abroad options PSU offers. Only 500 students study abroad from PSU each year, a tiny number compared to the near 30,000 students enrolled at the university.
There are a variety of benefits to students traveling abroad, according to Collins.
“Students can study coursework related to their academic major in a different educational setting. They can go deeper into their education,” she said. “Sometimes some of the universities where they will study will provide them with courses that they cannot get at PSU.”
By studying at universities in other nations, students can see new or different perspectives, according to Collins. “They can gain experience working, volunteering or doing an internship in a different cultural setting.”
Jill Scantlan has traveled abroad to India twice during her time at PSU. While in India, Scantlan took several classes in public health, non-governmental organizations and development, human rights and Hindi. She lived with an Indian family for five months and volunteered at an anti-human trafficking organization called “Prajwala.”
During Scantlan’s second trip to India, she participated in a service learning internship with Child and Family Health International, in which she conducted a qualitative research project on the barriers to community participation in Indian urban slums.
“Studying at a university outside of the U.S. gave me great insight into how Indian institution and bureaucracy works,” she said. “During my second trip I got to focus on making connections with Indian Non-governmentals, shadowing doctors on their rotations and cultivating my research skills.”
Scantlan said her host family was, in many ways, a very traditional Hindu family. However, they had also traveled abroad extensively and therefore understood American culture.
Another PSU student, Bryan Houde, traveled to Poiters, France through the Oregon University Exchange Program.
“It was well-organized and made it easier than going independently,” he said. “I have such a different perspective on school and life after having lived abroad for a year. It was hard but so worth it.”
During his time abroad, Houde was in contact with his PSU advisers and relied on a French OUS director for support. He also bonded with his host family and found that his language skills had improved dramatically by the time his trip was over.
“I made friends in France that I’ll have for the rest of my life, and my host family situation was perfect for me,” he said.
At the study abroad fair students also spoke with financial aid representatives to find out how their financial aid can be applied toward studying abroad. In addition, attendees learned about scholarships and grants specifically designed for students wanting to study abroad.
Students that have returned from studying and interning overseas were also available to answer questions.
“I got wonderful support from the Education Abroad Department at PSU before I left, while I was there, and once I got back. I also received several scholarships from PSU and other sources to fund my study abroad,” Scantlan said.
For more information about studying abroad, visit www.oia.pdx.edu/ea. In addition, study abroad information sessions are provided every Wednesday in 211 East Hall at noon.