Study abroad fair offers new perspective


Over 10 countries were represented at the Study Abroad Fair on Thursday, Feb. 18 in the lobby of VBR.

Professors and students sat at booths, ready to offer information on what the different trips offered. Countries from China to the Italy were available for for study abroad options. 

Prices differed between each trip, as well as the options of what one could experience during each one. Most were directed towards a specific field of study such as design with South Korea, agriculture with a number of countries like China or Australia and the United Kingdom for students of theatre. 

Most of the trips are led by faculty who traveled to the country before. Excursions to cultural places, ways to learn about the students’ field of study from a different perspectives and—on some trips—chances to travel to other places independently. 

International Student Exchange Program (ISEP) and Bilateral Exchange Programs are offered in addition to faculty-led programs. These programs offer a longer program, usually for a semester or more. The price to attend a university through ISEP costs the same as a student pays to attend South Dakota State University. 

Drake Hagen, a student majoring in history and political science, participated in the foreign exchange program. “The safety of your parents is gone; it helps you grow up,” Hagen said. “You get a taste of the real world before you graduate. If you study overseas for a semester, you have more time to travel.” 

Professor Robert Thaler, a swine professor at SDSU, is traveling on the agriculture China trip and offered advice to students. 

“In the class that will prepare you for the trip, be engaged as much as possible. Get to know other students in the class because you’ll be spending all your time with them on the trip,” Thaler said. “You become very close with them. The last couple of classes that have gone have had reunions.” 

Thaler said that studying abroad allows “you grow so much as a person. It changes your personality and your outlook on life.” 

Mary R. Moeller, a professor for the College of Education and Human Sciences, will lead a trip to Belize. She says that the Belize experience is more on participating with the locals rather than just observing.

Moeller says that any student who goes would find a way to make their major benefit the trip, regardless of the area they study. Brookings community members are encouraged to attend the “unique, service learning” trip as well.

Danielle Dunn, a senior hospitality major, decided to attend the Belize service-learning trip.

“It’s my senior year and I’ve always wanted to do it,” Dunn said. Dunn said that the trip is one of the cheapest trips offered at the fair, and was a key factor in choosing to attend. The Belize trip is over spring break. 

“You don’t get to experience it until you’ve lived it,” Moeller said. “You can’t just read about it. Studying abroad wets the appetite to learn more, being curious and opens you up to other perspectives.”