Tables lined the Marigold Quad just south of the Lee Library. Students crowded around colorful displays of clothes, artifacts, and pictures from countries around the world to learn more about the exciting possibility of gaining experience abroad.
BYU offers more than 150 international study programs every year. More than 60 booths at the fair on Sept. 21 represented programs in different geographical areas around the world.
International Program Coordinator Aaron Rose said the main purpose of the fair is to get the BYU community aware of the many study abroad and international internship programs offered by the academic colleges in coordination with the Kennedy Center.
“I kinda say it’s like fashion week,” Rose said. “All of our 2018 line is there.”
Students who have already participated in study abroad programs and faculty program directors were there to talk to interested students.
Vienna Study Abroad with Internship program director Laura Smith said these adventures are a great opportunity for students because of the myriad of experiences they provide. The Vienna program is unique because it combines work experience with classes.
“Our program isn’t just writing papers,” Smith said. “Participants are working, learning the language and experiencing the culture.”
There is a program for every student. Rose discussed how the Kennedy Center has recently seen a lot of growth in International Studies Programs. As interest continues to grow, more programs are developed, creating more opportunities for students.
“It seems that both faculty and students are interested more and more in offering and going on programs that are very specific to their major,” Rose said. “I think just about every major on campus has their own study abroad program or international internship these days.”
For European studies major Gina Fowler, her experience abroad in Austria fit her needs exactly.
“For me, it was important to intern, but I also wanted cultural experiences while learning the language better,” Fowler said. “I didn’t want to just be working or taking classes. I wanted both.”
For some students, it’s important to travel to multiple cities. Recent trends have shown there is more interest in programs that cover multiple locations.
The number of students doing a semester abroad has also increased over the past few years after a large decline. Rose said there were about 1,300-1,400 students going on study abroad programs in 2004, plateauing at about 1,500 students a year.
When the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints changed the missionary age in 2012 the programs saw a steep decline in numbers.
This year records the most students going abroad in BYU history. Over 1,900 students have already participated or will participate in study abroad and internship programs in 2017.
Rose realizes there will be many students who decide not to go on an international experience, but still hopes they stop by the Kennedy Center to expand their opportunities on campus.
More information on international experience programs can be found on the Kennedy Center website.