Study Abroad Fair promotes travel, resources for interested students – Grand Valley Lanthorn

There was recently a study abroad fair in Kirkhof at Grand Valley State University.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, travel outside of the United States has been heavily impacted. This year, traveling abroad is slowly but surely coming back.

The study abroad fair was held to expose students to various travel opportunities as there are faculty-led programs and independent study programs. Walking around the fair students could stop by several booths to learn about the trip, the credits associated with the trip and other details regarding financial aid. 

“Mostly my passion is to learn more about Spanish,” said Madison Brusak, a fifth-year student at GVSU. “I’ve been studying it since I was in middle school and so I knew when I came to GV it was something I wanted to continue doing, and also the desire to travel.”

Brusak studied abroad in Mexico while finishing her Spanish minor and stayed with a host family. 

“I was there for about nine months, I did two semesters there,” Brusak said. “I took all Spanish language and culture classes and then I was able to travel to six different countries all throughout Europe when I was there as well. I got to live with a host family and got super close with them and I’m actually going back to visit them this summer.”

Due to studying abroad and taking language, teaching and culture classes, Brusak was able to learn the language easier while being immersed in Spanish and is currently teaching the language. Before her time abroad, Brusak didn’t speak Spanish. 

“I would say just to definitely get the bravery to do it,” Brusak said. “I was so worried before I left about how am I going to navigate studying abroad. I don’t know Spanish. So many little worries and little anxieties would have stopped me from going. You just have to do it and realize that all those things you worried about have no meaning and are not as bad as you think.”

Along with the challenge of navigating school and vising another country, the cost is also a worry for students.

Lisa Feurzeig, one of two faculty directors for a new study abroad program studying music in Austria and the Czech Republic, said GVSU has resources for those who may need financial assistance in order to study abroad. 

“Not everyone can go and not everyone can always afford to go but there are so many ways to get help with funding,” Feurzeig said. 

Financial aid and several scholarships are offered for studying abroad. If students are interested all they have to do is reach out to the study abroad program and someone will be able to answer their questions.

Another worry for students is feeling lonely while in another country. Feurzeig said that students should worry less about making friends while she was studying abroad.

“As a graduate student in Austria, it was challenging,” Feurzeig said. “Fortunately I knew people who knew people and it made it easier to find friends and to find my way around. I think the thing about faculty-led programs is that we will make those connections for you so you will not be by yourself.”

Kelsey Bridewell, a GVSU alumni serving as an enrollment coordinator with Ai Fest Abroad, met her best friend while studying abroad.

“I met my best friend in the whole world on this trip,” Bridwell said. “She was from Minnesota, I was from California. We would have never met before our trip and now we live together today in Denver, Colorado.”

Students interested in more information about GVSU’s study abroad opportunities are encouraged to visit the program’s website.

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