Off-Campus Study Department Hosts Study Abroad Fair

Ellie Weber, Staff Writer

The Off-Campus Study Department hosted a Study Abroad Fair on Sep. 28. The fair advertised the Colgate Study groups for Fall 2023 and Spring 2024. The application cycle for study abroad officially opened on Sep. 27 and the deadline for applications is Nov. 2.

Cas Sowa, Associate Director for Off-Campus Study, mainly works with the Colgate-approved programs, which were not represented at the fair.

“I do work with some of the Colgate study groups. So we help students and advise students on programs,” Sowa said. “We help arrange some programs and we coordinate activities with our approved partner programs as well. We had a really good turnout the first 20 to 30 minutes of the fair. It got quite busy. It was a bit overwhelming I think for some of the tables because all of the students kind of came in at once.” 

The purpose of the fair was to promote the Colgate study abroad programs. Each had their own table at the fair run by the program’s faculty director. 

“Colgate runs anywhere between 17 to 22 or 23 of our own faculty-led semester study groups,” Sowa explained. “And then there is always anywhere between two to maybe six extended study programs that are offered in a given year.”

Planning for both the fair and study abroad began a year ago with faculty from different departments interested in taking a group abroad.

“Faculty apply for their programs and they’re approved internally through the academic departments to be leading those programs,” Sowa said. “Once all of that is finalized, our office then works with those individual faculty members so that we can get publicity out for those programs. The study fair is our official launch of the programs for next year.”

Students that attended the fair met the faculty directors for each program and were provided with information on the program and the application process itself. Students can begin applying now for programs taking place next year. Students can submit their application up until Nov. 2 — Sowa explained that applying earlier does not provide any specific benefit. 

After the application deadline, faculty directors will interview students and make their final decisions by the end of December. Sowa explained that anywhere between 60 to 65 percent of a graduating class studies abroad. Sowa gave many reasons as to why students should consider applying. 

“Students should look at this as part of their Colgate degree. That this is an option for them just like anything else, just like the courses they are taking or which [concentration] that they choose,” Sowa said. 

Studying abroad can help students become more focused on what it is they want to study, Sowa explained. It provides students with a different experience than what one would get on campus. 

“No matter what you do when you’re beyond Colgate, you’re going to be working for people from all different types of communities, so this is a good exposure in getting that experience and kind of being put into a new situation so that you can handle yourself and survive and be a success in that situation and use those skills for whatever you are doing beyond Colgate,” Sowa said. 

Sowa also went into detail on the difficulties regarding COVID-19 in the department. 

“Some program locations are just starting to open up. So [last year] we did have to cancel a lot of programs,” Sowa said. “We tried to create programs during COVID as best as we could and in many cases, we had to cancel just because of government regulations or health and safety reasons. But I think Colgate reopened options for students a little bit more quickly than some other institutions and students last year both Fall and Spring semester were able to still participate in programs.”

Sophomores Diya Mehta and Laine Girolamo attended the fair and both said they are planning to study abroad. 

“I think, obviously, being away at college is definitely very freeing and you have an independent life, but being in another country or away from home even further is something that teaches you skills on how to communicate with different types of people and meet a more diverse group of people,” Mehta said. “Since you’re not on campus you’re learning how to live on your own in a new country which is a lot more skills than just learning how to live on a campus where stuff is provided for you.” 

Mehta heard about the fair at a study abroad information session. Giralamo heard about it through an upperclassman who had been through the process. 

“I mean, just to have the opportunity is great. Colgate has all these experiences that I really want to just try out. So, ‘why not?’ is the real answer. I’m interested in the Scotland program just because I’m a philosophy [concentrator] and I really like the professor who is running it,” Giralamo said.

Both students found the fair helpful in gathering information as they embark on the application process. Students have many options to choose from, whether it is a Colgate study group or an approved program with transfer credit. 

“I just hope the students consider it, whether they end up going abroad or not. I think it’s a great option for a lot of students to really enhance their degree program and their four years here at Colgate,” Sowa said.