Global Education Fall Fair showcases a world of opportunities | VTx

Caroline Umphlet chose to study at Virginia Tech in part because of the many opportunities to study abroad.

The senior is studying International Studies and Arabic at the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences. In the spring of 2022, she traveled more than 6,000 miles to study in Cairo.

“I knew that learning a language is always much more beneficial when you’re surrounded by it all the time,” she said. “I wanted to put myself in the best position to expand my Arabic skills.”

At first she worried that she would miss being in Blacksburg. But, she said, experiencing a different culture and a different university is something she would probably never do again. “After just one semester abroad, I’ve made friends for life, not to mention the different countries and cultures.”

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Umphlet will be among the students sharing their study abroad stories during the annual Global Education Fall Fair, taking place under the Drillfield tent on September 21 from 10am to 4pm.

Students, faculty and staff are invited to attend the trade show, hosted by the Global Education Office, to learn about Virginia Tech’s many global offerings. More than 70 information boards provide information about faculty-led and external opportunities to travel or study abroad. Faculty members who direct study abroad programs are available for questions. And students from international universities provide information about international exchange programs.

“Even during the pandemic, Virginia Tech has not faltered in its commitment to global engagement. Student interest in studying abroad has not waned, as has the commitment of our faculty and staff to ensure students have exceptional global experiences,” said Theresa Johansson, director of global education.

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In the past year alone, despite all travel restrictions related to the pandemic, more than 1,150 Virginia Tech students have studied abroad, most in faculty-led programs. Johansson said her office, which is part of Outreach and International Affairs, is seeing a growing interest in studying abroad.

“As we continue to define what it means to be a global land-grant institution with a world-wide perspective, Virginia Tech emphasizes the importance of experiential learning for both undergraduate and graduate students. Studying abroad teaches students how to thrive in an increasingly connected world and how to understand global issues from different angles,” she said.

During her semester at the American University in Cairo, Umphlet studied with fellow students from Japan, India, Great Britain, Finland, Sweden and Poland – and also from Egypt. “I got to take trips around the country and surrounding countries with these people and we became very close. I also made friends with some of the locals and was warmly welcomed into their homes to eat with them and learn about their religion. I have no words to describe how nice the people were.”

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She said she plans to tell students at the Global Education Fall Fair that studying abroad is the best decision she’s ever made for herself. “There will never be an experience other than being a college student with people your own age, probably studying similar things, exploring a country and a new culture together.”

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