Caroline Umphlet chose to attend Virginia Tech in part because of the many study abroad opportunities it offers students.

The senior is majoring in international studies and Arabic in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences. In spring 2022, she traveled more than 6,000 miles to study in Cairo.

“I knew learning a language is always exponentially more beneficial when you are surrounded by it constantly,” she said. “I wanted to put myself in the best position to further my Arabic skills.”

At first, she worried she would miss being in Blacksburg. But, she said, experiencing another culture and another university was something she would likely never again have a chance to do. “I have made lifelong friends from just one semester abroad, not to mention from various countries and cultures.”

Umphlet will be among the students sharing their study abroad stories during the annual Global Education Fall Fair, which returns under the Drillfield tent from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept 21.

Students, faculty, and staff are invited to attend the fair, hosted by the Global Education Office, to learn about Virginia Tech’s many global offerings. More than 70 information tables will provide details on faculty-led and third-party opportunities to travel or study abroad. Faculty members who lead study abroad programs will be on hand to answer questions. And students from international universities will share information on international exchange programs.

“Even during the pandemic, Virginia Tech has not wavered in its commitment to global engagement. Student interest in study abroad has not waned, and neither has the commitment of our faculty and staff to ensure that students have extraordinary global experiences,” said Theresa Johansson, director of global education.

In the past year alone — even with all the pandemic-related travel restrictions — more than 1,150 Virginia Tech students studied abroad, most in programs led by faculty members. Johansson said her office, part of Outreach and International Affairs, is seeing a surging interest in studying abroad.

“As we continue to define what it means to be a global land-grant institution with a worldwide perspective, Virginia Tech stresses the importance of experiential learning for both undergraduate and graduate students. With study abroad, students learn how to succeed in an increasingly interconnected world and understand global issues from diverse points of view,” she said.

During Umphlet’s semester at the American University in Cairo, for example, she studied with classmates from Japan, India, the United Kingdom, Finland, Sweden, and Poland — as well as Egypt. “I got to go on trips around the country and surrounding countries with these people, and we grew very close. I also made friends with some locals and was graciously welcomed into their homes to share meals and learn about their religion. I don’t have the words to describe how kind people were.”

She said she plans to tell students at the Global Education Fall Fair that studying abroad was the best decision she ever made for herself. “There is never going to be another experience like being a college student with people your age, probably studying similar things, exploring a country and new culture together.” 

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