Monday, Jan. 23 at 11:59 p.m. marks the application deadline for students who are hoping to study abroad next year.
Students who have been accepted by both the University of Richmond and its partner school abroad will then be notified by email a few weeks later, said Uliana Gabara, dean of international education.
With a smile on her face, Gabara, who has been the head of the Office of International Education since its creation in 1987, stressed the importance of studying abroad for every student at the University of Richmond.
"Our goal is to make it possible for every student on campus to study abroad, regardless of financial means, major or background," she said. "It is a crucial piece of the undergrad experience in the 21st century, no one should be excluded."
Gabara said that she knew that this may be difficult for student athletes who had stringent time commitments, but the Office of International Education was working to make studying overseas accessible even for students who have wanted to go abroad, but are under the impression that they would not have the chance.
Michele Cox, the director of study abroad, has been working at the University of Richmond for 21 years. She said that some programs in Australia and New Zealand start in late February or March, which could possibly work for students with timing conflicts.
To make studying abroad easier and more enticing, the Office of International Education helps students from the very beginning: setting up meetings with advisers, organizing information sessions, giving students a travel stipend and paying for health insurance and a passport.
"Studying abroad is part and parcel of a Richmond education," Gabara said. "We set up systems to make it all possible."
This past fall, Cox said that 321 Richmond students went abroad for at least a semester, while this spring, only 99 chose to study abroad. Over the course of the 2011-2012 academic year, these students have studied in 45 different countries.
Gabara said that over 60 percent of the students who have attended the University of Richmond have gone abroad at some point during their college career.
Kyle Oliver, a sophomore planning to study in Barcelona next fall, sat in the lobby of the Carole Weinstein International Center waiting for an appointment with Cox.
"I went to Spain after senior year of high school and I knew I wanted to go abroad as soon as I got here," he said. "It became even more realistic this year."
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Oliver said that he had picked the fall over the spring for one specific reason: "I play lacrosse and our main season is in the spring," he said.
Cox said that other reasons students give for wanting to go abroad in the fall rather than the spring included not wanting to miss Ring Dance, the chance to join a fraternity or sorority, Pig Roast, the friends they may leave behind or a possible internship.
Of the students who decide to study in a foreign country for the semester, the majority are juniors, Cox said, with about 35 percent of the junior class going abroad each fall, and only a few sophomores and seniors.
Kristina Lewis is one of the exceptions. As a second semester senior who never had the chance to go abroad, Lewis said she was excited to do something that she had not thought possible before.
"I knew I wanted to study abroad but I had no idea where I wanted to go or what I wanted to do," Lewis said. "They (The Office of International Education) really helped me figure out everything that had to be turned in and make sure that it was on time."
After deciding that she wanted to attend a school of field studies, Lewis had a choice of locations, such as Australia, Costa Rica or Africa, but she finally opted for Turks and Caicos, a group of islands of the British West Indies in the Atlantic Ocean in the Bahamas island chain.
"All were so different and it was a hard choice," Lewis said. "But in the end, I wanted to go to Turks and Caicos because of the focus on marine study."
Lewis said she would not be at a university but will be working on field sites in remote areas in South Caicos, far away from the bustling tourist resorts on the islands.
"When I mention that I am going to Turks and Caicos, most people think of resorts, but that is not the case," she said. "All 36 students in the program and the professors in charge will be living in one building. Fresh water is scarce so we are only allowed one fresh water shower a week."
In the two suitcases that she is allowed to bring with her, she has a 75 pound combined weight limit that includes all of her scuba gear, which turns out to be quite heavy, Lewis said with a laugh.
"We will be in the water every day, identifying and studying the fish and marine life," Lewis said, "So I decided to get scuba certified over the summer."
Thanks to all of the help from the Office of International Education, Lewis said that she was eagerly waiting for Jan. 30, the day she starts her studies abroad.
Contact reporter Charlotte Brackett at firstname.lastname@example.org
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