Students explore Study Abroad options at fair

Casey Bleuel photo: AIFS Campus Representative Jessica Soler talks with sophomores Sara Fatula and Karima Elsayed at the Study Abroad Fair.Casey Bleuel photo: AIFS Campus Representative Jessica Soler talks with sophomores Sara Fatula and Karima Elsayed at the Study Abroad Fair.
On Wednesday, Oct. 15, Mercyhurst’s Study Abroad Office hosted the Study Abroad Fair from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. in the Student Union Great Room where students were given the opportunity to pursue upcoming options and information related to studying abroad.

Three outsourced study abroad programs were present with informational tables at the fair, including the American Institute for Foreign Study (AIFS), American Programs International (API) and Athena Study Abroad.

Mercyhurst University’s own Study Abroad Office was in attendance offering an opportunity to answer questions about the school’s traditional study abroad option to Ireland.
New to Mercyhurst’s own study abroad options is an Italy J-Term program.

The American Institute for Foreign Study was represented at the fair by Jessica Soler who said that AIFS has “full semester summer and January term programs.”

Soler was excited about the opportunity this gave the students, saying that “in any study abroad program, no matter where they go or what they do, they are going to get a great cultural experience,” she said. “You learn a lot from being immersed in a different country.”

Soler also mentioned that the AIFS has “all types of courses for every major.”

Prices for AIFS vary depending on the length of time that the students go. According to Soler, “January term ranges from $3,000 to $5,000, summer from about $3,000 to $12,000 …and semester programs range from $9,000 to about $17,000.”

Academic Programs International (API) was represented by Kerianne Baylor and offers programs in over 20 countries, with prices starting at $13,000 and going up from there. The program caught interest fast, according to Baylor, who said that she “had hardly set up” her table before students were asking her questions.

Athena Study Abroad was also represented at the fair by Stacy McKay Benander.

The program can take students to Asia, Europe and Australia.

According to McKay, students “have the option of going for semesters, summers, or academic years abroad and January term as well, which seems to be very popular with Mercyhurst students.”

Many students at this year’s fair expressed excitement at the opportunities provided, including Tara Barnhardt, a junior Finance major who is looking to study abroad in England or Italy over the summer.

Barnhardt said it would be “interesting to see the different culture.”

Alison Hosko, a junior Communications major, also praised Italy, saying that she “learned the history of Italy” on her previous trip.

Hosko also added that students could “take J-term trips and Spring Term trips, so it’s not a full semester.”

Italy seemed to be a very popular destination among students. Freshman Marcela Rodriguez, majoring in Forensics with a concentration in Forensic Anthropology, was also interested, saying that she is hoping to take an introductory course in Italian there.

Rodriguez said that “there was a really broad range of people” at the fair, many of whom “knew exactly what they were talking about.”

Elissa Reitz, a graduate student, helped to coordinate the event, and was also there promoting a Foundations of Sustainability course, which will be offered for the upcoming spring 2015 term.

Students who join the Foundations of Stability course will be “travelling to Germany and Switzerland.” Reitz said the price was “about $3400, and that includes everything from travel to accommodations to insurance to entrance fees to all of the events and attractions we’ll be seeing.”

On the subject of the fair’s helpfulness to students, Reitz said that “there are a lot of benefits to traveling abroad and whether somebody comes on our study abroad trip or on someone else’s study abroad trip, I think the benefits are pretty amazing” and that it “would benefit anyone to travel abroad.”

For more information about studying abroad, contact Dean of International Education Heidi Hosey, Ph.D., at