EdAbroadCon! invites students, staff to learn more about study abroad opportunities, resources
Thinking about studying abroad? Western Washington University has expanded access to various resources to make the planning process more convenient.
Western’s Education Abroad office is currently hosting a virtual EdAbroadCon! event from Feb. 23-25 to connect Western students and faculty interested in learning abroad to education and teaching abroad resources, opportunities and programs.
Krista Mantello, study abroad program support supervisor at Western, said anyone interested in education abroad is encouraged to attend the event and register for any live events of interest.
Due to COVID-19, the event has to be held virtually. Krista said before the COVID-19 pandemic, the Education Abroad office held an annual "Go Abroad Fair", but an in-person event wasn’t possible this year.
After brainstorming ideas to affiliate and engage with students, the conference concept started to take place, Mantello said.
"The Education Abroad office is offering themed content sessions highlighting resources, opportunities and programs for particular areas of study and identity groups," Mantello said. "The conference will feature some of the opportunities WWU students and faculty have to participate in education abroad and resources available to help affiliate their international experience."
Mantello suggested students interested in studying abroad should start by completing the Western Abroad 101 information session, which allows students to learn at their own pace online.
Luke Griffin, peer advisor and ambassador for the study abroad program, has firsthand experienced what it was like to study abroad.
“I studied abroad during my second year at Western,” Griffin said. “I spent a semester at the University of Essex in England and a semester at L’Universite de Lille in France.”
Griffin said he encourages students to study abroad because it allows them to immerse themselves in a different country. Studying abroad opens doors to learn about another country's culture and history, Griffin said.
"You can continue your degree academically while also getting so much practical life experience and learning about other parts of the world at the same time," Griffin said. "It also depends on what you want to get out of the program. It can be a focus on a language acquisition, studying history or in general just traveling to experience new things."
Griffin said EdAbroadCon! will be highly beneficial to those interested in the program.
"We have numerous program providers in attendance, which allowed students to speak directly to them and learn more about the programs that are offered," Griffin said. "There were also other panels present. They discussed topics such as how to get a passport and about international opportunities post-graduation."
Jennifer Gay, director of member relations for the U.S. West, Asia, and Oceania for the nonprofit International Student Exchange Programs, also talked about the benefits of studying abroad.
Gay said it also gives students humility and a desire to develop more understanding and practice diplomacy skills with other people. These skills are beneficial to the student and every one the student interacts with, Gay said.
"I encourage study abroad because every student that I've interacted with that have had a study abroad experience has come back transformed," Gay said. "They've had life experiences, and they've navigated new lessons, boundaries and challenges in ways that build them up and give them confidence."
EdAbroadCon! allows anyone to participate in the event, especially those who have a strong desire to study abroad.