With a study abroad fair for students fast approaching this semester, concern regarding current social political issues across the world may impact decisions by University of Wisconsin students considering the possibility of studying in a different country.
Director of International Studies and Programs Dan Gold said he assures student safety is their first concern, and situations abroad are under constant supervision by UW in order to ensure those studying abroad are not in any danger.
While study abroad programs in Syria and Egypt have been shut down due to political and social unrest, the university still offers programs in certain areas of the Middle East, Gold said.
“Crises are generally very fluid, with no clear starting point or ending point,” Gold said. “Monitoring them is a constant process.”
Gold said concerns about international turmoil is nothing new for international studies programs. He said there have always been crises and issues in the world and added that study abroad programs take these risks into account.
He added that in light of such problems, the number of students studying abroad has not wavered.
The world as a whole has changed to become much more globalized, according to Gold, and with this change, an interconnectedness and increasing global knowledge has taken place.
Gold said students should look to the University International Travel Committee, Department of State Travel Warnings and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the process of researching countries where they would like to study abroad.
The annual UW Study Abroad Fair will be held later next week and will provide information on the variety of study abroad programs that the university offers, both in the Middle East and across the world, Gold said.
Gold said the fair is the only event of the year that showcases all of the study abroad programs available to UW students and added it is organized by the International Academic Programs with representatives from other study abroad offices on campus.
“There are quite a few options to choose from,” Gold said. “Students choose programs for both regional and academic reasons, and we try to offer students programs in all regions that meet the same academic standards.”
Associate Student Coordinator of the International Studies and Programs Department Lauren Worth said she urges students to attend.
Worth said the International Studies and Programs Department is adding new study abroad programs constantly.
She also said the fair provides returning faculty and students the opportunity to offer personal experiences with particular programs.
Worth stressed the importance of one-on-one interactions made possible through attendance in the fair because personal experiences can provide a higher amount of guidance and feedback, as opposed to a gathering of information online.
“The website is great, but it really only gives you the bare bones information,” Worth said.
Worth said online, students do not really get an idea of the actual experience of studying abroad and added the fair adds a more personal touch to educating students on programs.
The study abroad fair will be held on Sept. 12 from 4-7 p.m. at Varsity Hall in Union South.