Off the Beaten Track

UC Irvine participated in International Education Week from Nov. 14-18 in order to highlight the numerous international exchange opportunities, academic programs and activities available at UCI.

To celebrate the week, international students and study abroad participants created an International Graffiti Board and Travel-Study display on Ring Road. Questions such as “If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?” or “What is your favorite cultural food?” were featured on the display.  .

The U.S. Department of Education and Department of State nationally recognizes International Education Week. During International Education Week, students engaged in multi-cultural activities and learned about studying abroad to have a deeper understanding of other cultures and to become passionate leaders in today’s global economy.

According to Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, only 1 percent of American students from two to four-year institutions are studying abroad. Students from around the world come to the United States to study abroad and take advantage of these opportunities to enhance their international awareness.

“One of the worries students have when they consider studying abroad is, where am I going to go?” said Dr. Armin Schwegler, Director of Global Cultures.

“It literally makes no difference where you go, as long as you go abroad because you ultimately learn more about yourself and where you come from,” he said.

While some students tested their international music knowledge at the International Peer Group’s listening booth and played music trivia games, others purchased international food at club canopies to help raise money for international causes. The Study Abroad Center also held an open house throughout the week for students to taste international treats while learning fun facts about different countries.

“The Study Abroad Center has been bustling!” said Study Abroad Coordinator Chrystal Fairbanks.

“I think the students have really enjoyed the international vibe it has brought into the office. Plus, we’ve had a ton of students take out applications to study abroad.”

UCI’s Global Leadership Certificate Program hosted a pizza party where students learned about the “Semester at Sea” Program.  The Academic English and International Center also sponsored an English Development workshop at the Student Center.

“When students from different countries and cultural backgrounds sit together in classrooms, whether in the United States or abroad, they exchange new ideas, break down stereotypes, gain knowledge of each other and their differing cultures, and make connections that last a lifetime,” said Janice Jacobs,  Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs, in a released statement. Outside of UC Irvine, there is a world that is waiting to be discovered.

“I hope with International Education Week, students will gain a sense of how large and fascinating the world truly is,” Fairbanks said. “Studying abroad will give students a chance to connect with other cultures, people and belief systems that are different than their own on a more personal level.” The Graffiti Board revealed that there is a large group of students who would like to take advantage of the chance to go abroad. Interested participants should talk to a counselor, financial aid representative or Chrystal Fairbanks in the Study Abroad Center.

“The most difficult thing about going abroad is going from here to LAX.” Dr. Schwegler said. “The rest will fall into place.”