Study abroad fair held in Kryzsko Commons


Brynn Artley

Assistant professor Jana Craft talks with students at the business administration department table. The department is offering three different travel study programs this year.

Brynn Artley, Features Reporter

Students, faculty share study abroad, travel study information

Winona State University’s International Programs Office held a study abroad fair last Thursday in East Hall of Kryzsko Commons to inform students of the different study abroad and travel study programs offered.

The purpose of the fair was “to give students more information about studying abroad and to make them aware that we have all these programs available to them,” said junior Kristen Fiske, who works in the International Programs Office.

There are 173 study abroad programs and 14 travel study programs currently available, according to the International Programs Office.

Study abroad typically refers to a program led by a provider independent of Winona State while travel study refers to a faculty-led program that is shorter in duration. Whatever program chosen, students and faculty at the event encouraged visitors to partake in the international study experience.

Students mingled throughout the hall and visited tables stationed with third-party providers and Winona State professors, as well as students who have studied abroad. 

Junior Angela Reutter, a double major in business administration and human resources, volunteered at the fair to talk about her time studying in Athens, Greece.

“I encourage people to study abroad because I found myself, which I know sounds so cliché, but I found what made me happy,” Reutter said. “I feel like oftentimes in America, everything’s so fast paced that you’re always thinking about the future, but when I was abroad, I learned to just live in the moment.”

Robert Harris III, who represented the study abroad organization Higher Education Consortium for Urban Affairs (HECUA) at the fair, made a similar remark.

“I myself studied abroad three times, and as clichéd as it sounds, it’s a transformational experience,” said Harris. “It’s a way to reflect on who you are, what you study [and it’s] to reflect on who someone else is and breach those cultural gaps.”

Senior Gianna Scala studied abroad in Spain for one month in the summer and said the experience would have been different if she had traveled outside of her program.

“It was a really great experience,” Scala said. “There [were] a lot of different cultural activities and excursions that the program provided for us [and] that was really nice because I know I wouldn’t have done a lot of things if I didn’t have someone planning it for me; I just wouldn’t have known.”

Scala, a movement science major, is also minoring in Spanish, which is what motivated her to study abroad. 

“I think my Spanish got a lot better even though I was there for only a month,” Scala said.  “I think the biggest thing that helped me when I went there was just being confident in speaking Spanish, because before I was like, ‘I kind of know,’ but I was scared to make mistakes and when you’re there, you just do it, because you don’t have the choice and you just get used to it and more confident with it.”

Senior Kyle Barnum also said that his Spanish improved after his travel to Spain.

“When I was just out and about, I could speak perfectly fine because there was no pressure,” Barnum said. “But then in school, there’s pressure because they’re grading me.”

Barnum is entering his fifth year at Winona State and said that studying abroad did delay his graduation, but it was a result of his academic choices. 

Barnum is triple majoring in Spanish, human resources management and business administration, the latter of which he did not pursue while he was in Spain for six months, although he could have. 

“I just need six more classes for business and then I’m done,” Barnum said. “So [now], I have three majors. [Studying abroad was] definitely worth it. Time and time again, I would do it over and over and over.”

Scala’s experience is actually helping her graduate on time.  Scala was able to take two classes outside of the standard two-semester year because she traveled in the summer.

“It just kind of lightens my schedule, actually.  It made it better,” Scala said.

Assistant professor of business administration Jana Craft said that students should not avoid studying abroad because they are afraid of not graduating on time.

“When you study abroad for a full semester, you meet with your advisor beforehand and you see which [classes] match up with your major, so there’s no classes that you are taking for a study abroad that don’t mean anything for your major,” Craft said. “There’s no reason why study abroad or travel study should delay your graduation. It should actually enhance and fold into your program. Any advisor can make that happen.”

Craft is leading a travel-study program to Scotland this year. Prior to traveling to prepare for the program, she had never been outside of the country and picked up a few pieces of advice for students studying in a different country.

“Bring half as much stuff, and twice as much money,” Craft said. “I think the more stuff people bring, it’s like they want to feel comfortable and they want to have options in case they can fit in better, and it really was a learning experience for me [because] I’m just me all the time, no matter where I am, and I was able to actually prove that by only bringing the bare minimum.”

While interested students may be nervous about the idea of traveling only by the bare minimum and themselves, Scala said the nerves wear off.

“My advice would be just to do it, because I was nervous too, but I felt like after I was abroad by myself for a month, I could do anything now,” Scala said. “It’s a good feeling and it’s good to push yourself.  I was really nervous but it was the best time of my life.”

Barnum and Reutter had the same advice—just do it.

“Once you go out and do it, it becomes nothing,” Barnum said.  “It’s like all your troubles just go away, blow in the wind, you know. It’s a great opportunity and you’ve got to take it.”

Reutter said students should take the opportunity to study in a different country.

“Just do it,” Reutter said.  “Don’t hold yourself back.  It’s not something you would regret.  And you make friends that will last you a lifetime.”