Travel abroad fair: why not everyone is going


Hannah Jones/Winonan

Winona State University’s Travel Abroad Fair came to the Student Art Center last Tuesday, but senior math major Donny Johnson wasn’t about to get out of his chair anytime soon.

He sat a few yards away from the tables showcasing different countries and different programs, not even tempted by the free cookies and brownies and the chance to win a deluxe set of rolling luggage.

Johnson said he had nothing against the idea of traveling. His dream trip, he said, was to go on a travel study to Finland: the homeland of his hero, Linus Torvalds, who invented Linux. Such a study was on exhibit at the fair, along with many other destinations from Latin America to the Pacific islands.

Johnson still wasn’t about to stand up.

Johnson is one of many college students who would like to travel abroad, but can’t seem to sign themselves up. Plenty of students passed by the fair Tuesday morning, but by mid-afternoon, there were only a few students roving the tables and picking up literature for the programs they were considering. Others sat on the margins and looked on.

“The main issue is money,” Johnson said. “I can barely afford to come here [to Winona State.]”

Candace Rupnik, a junior, was also seated near the fair. She said her dream trip was the Pacific Challenge tour of Australia and New Zealand. However, she was more concerned at the moment with getting some homework done.

“School’s already expensive as it is,” she said.

Meanwhile, super-senior Michael Glowczewski sat at the table in the middle of the fair, waiting to greet newcomers with a smile and some information on the study abroad programs.

“If anyone would ask me, I would totally tell them to study abroad,” Glowczewski said. Having studied abroad himself, Glowczewski is now a global ambassador for the study abroad program. His job is to promote the programs to students. Even so, he had to admit that cost was definitely a factor for a lot of students.

“It can be expensive,” he said. Glowczewski also said that there is also financial aid and many scholarships available to students who wish to travel, but it takes effort to procure them.

“There’s a lot of work that people don’t really think about,” he said. “You have to meet with financial advisers, you have to do your research and do your shopping, but it’s worth it.”

The time and money Glowczewski invested in studying abroad allowed him to experience the vibrant culture of Spain, ride a camel through a Moroccan desert, and see Beyonce live in Serbia. No matter the cost, the experience, he said, was priceless.

“I still like to brag about it,” he said with a smile.

Many other students were willing to invest. Junior Gretchen Haga had previously studied in Spain, and was at the fair picking up information on trips to Latin America.

“It’s an experience like no other,” she said, “Just to get outside your normal comfort zone.”

Johnson, meanwhile, considered the options the fair had available a few yards away. “I could probably swing it,” he said. “But that’s a lot of juggling I’d have to do. And I don’t like the TSA.” He hesitated a moment. “And there are so many laws in Finland.”

Johnson said he was thinking about going to Finland as a graduate student. In the meantime, Glowczewski kept up his work at the fair table.

“I wish I had done a travel study earlier,” he said. He looked out at the tables around him.

“It makes me want to go again.”


Contact Hannah at [email protected]