I recently attended the Study Abroad Fair on campus, where a number of tables were set up for the various programs our school offers to travel around the world and study overseas. I spoke to various students and staff and got the inside scoop.

To start out, I spoke to John Dunleavy, the main advisor for the College of Staten Island’s study abroad program.

“We have programs in about 17 different countries and almost 40 different cities. We have so many different areas to study all over the world.”

That definitely surprised me right out of the gate, as I would assume these types of programs are aimed toward either language-focused majors or history. But, as Dunleavy mentioned and the majors of various students I spoke to at the fair, there’s a huge variety of different education paths that can lead to you studying abroad.

“We have scholarships available and there’s also the possibility of using financial aid toward a program as well,” he said.

To learn more, Dunleavy informed me that there are information sessions in the Center for Global Engagement, located in 2A-206, every Tuesday at 2:30pm.

I also received information from Charlene Barrow, a recruiter for the Peace Corps, a unique way for students to engage globally and make a difference through service after graduation. I was drawn to her out of curiosity, as I’ve heard of the Peace Corps but had zero idea what the agency did. I learned quite a bit from her.

“It’s an independent federal agency that was started in 1961 by John F. Kennedy that sends volunteers from the U.S to live and work in different countries,” said Barrow. “The Peace Corps works in nearly 60 different countries and has positions in six different  sectors: Agriculture, Environment, Education, Health, Community Economic Development, and Youth in Development.”

I was stunned by the different opportunities offered through the Peace Corps’ 27-month volunteer programs that enhance your résumé through leadership, project management, language, and collaboration. Barrow outlined additional benefits once service is complete as a Peace Corps Volunteer, including a year of non-competitive eligibility for federal hiring and lifetime eligibility for a graduate school fellowship called the Coverdell Fellowship, which offers a discount on tuition at participating universities.

I was very informed by all the staff at the Study Abroad Fair, and asked a number of students where and what they want to study.

Andi, a Psych major, said, “I’m interested in studying in either London or in Tel-Aviv in Israel. I figured my last semester I might as well do study abroad to get them [the remaining credits] done.”

As someone who chose this internship with CSI Today for my final semester, I agree that there’s certainly a desire to mix things up a bit for the home stretch, as well as seeking last-minute opportunities that can hopefully lead to a fulfilling career someday.

Abigail, a Nursing major, said, “Right now I’m thinking of Italy. [It] seems really nice, I’ve always wanted to travel.”

As Staten Island, as well as the rest of New York City, has a large population of people with Italian ancestry, I can imagine this being a popular choice for CSI students. I personally would love to connect with the culture of my descendants someday, perhaps with someone by my side who isn’t terrified of flying like I am. Kudos to the students I spoke to, who all gave a confident “yes” when I asked if they were good fliers.

Speaking of long flights, Leah, an Information/Technology major, said, “[I’m interested in studying in] probably Tokyo, and I’ve been seeing a lot about Australia and Taiwan, so those are on my list too. I’m trying to study cybersecurity.”

When asked about her past history of traveling, Leah mentioned visiting family in Nigeria and going to Saint Vincent.

“I love to travel; it’s one of my passions” she told me. A perfect fit for studying abroad, I’m rooting for you, Leah.

Finally I spoke to Paul, a Biology major who was attending the Study Abroad Fair as a guest, as he’d previously participated.

“I studied abroad in Costa Rica and it was a great experience. I was with The City College and in tropical marine biology. We were taking samples and working in a lab [for] long days and long nights, having a lot of fun, and meeting some great people. I highly recommend [studying abroad] and highly recommend Central American culture.”

A glowing review of studying abroad, I would say. Paul reminded me of the importance of learning about different people and their cultures, and travel can remedy a lot of biases people hold toward people who “aren’t like them.” And while my aerophobia prevents me from packing my bags and heading out on my own, I wish all students who are or planning on studying abroad a safe and exciting journey into the world. Bon voyage!

By Laura Bello