International education fairs offer a unique opportunity for prospective students.
Talking to students at international student fairs, the first thing you realise is just how global the world of higher education really is. For the students attending, the event offers a chance to speak to representatives from more than 300 institutions, including universities, colleges, high schools and language schools, from over a dozen countries across the world – and while many have a firm idea of where they hope to study, for others it is their first opportunity to find out more about heading overseas to study.
Study fairs are an invaluable tool for talking to university, school or college representatives face-to-face and then making your study decisions. They provide the perfect setting for you to find out more about your course, about the best places for you to study and how best to utilise your qualifications and experience to ensure the best possible future for yourself.
Whatever your reasons for wanting to study abroad, international recruitment fairs offer the chance to speak to dozens of universities in a single day to find out about some of the available options – without clocking up thousands of air miles, or a huge phone bill.
Why Should I Consider Studying Abroad?
Experience a new culture
The best way of finding out about another culture is by immersing yourself in it, and you can only do that by living in a country. Once you are working, your holiday or experiences overseas might be limited to only two to four weeks per year so studying abroad is a great opportunity to remain in a country and learn all about it over a longer period of time.
You may not realise how many misconceptions about various nationalities you hold, until you actually interact and work with them on a regular basis. It consistently amazes students how little they truly know about the various opinions and manners of people from different places. Studying amongst all manners of people will provide you with a unique awareness of society and perhaps most important of all, your curiosity will be awoken.
Make friends from around the world
It’s likely that the university you choose for your international studies will have a large community of students both from the local area and all around the globe. If you take full advantage of this opportunity, you could graduate having established lasting friendships with people based in many different countries – great for future trips, and also a good basis for an international professional network.
Being part of an internationally diverse academic community can also enhance the quality of your learning, providing a wider spectrum of opinions and expertise.
Become truly independent
The experience of university is, for the newest students, a steep learning curve in gaining independence. But studying abroad takes that a whole step further, challenging students to really develop as individuals. You obviously have to cope on your own when you are studying abroad. You have to be able to look after yourself and sort out your own affairs.
Change the way you think
Studying abroad may well change the way you view all kinds of things which you’d previously taken for granted. Studying abroad provides an opportunity to expand one's field of view and helps one to understand and analyse problems and phenomena from a longer-term, worldwide perspective.
It’s easy to identify the skills you are lacking when you step outside your comfort zone. Now this is true of a two-week summer holiday, but even more so of a year-long study trip, where you not only become involved in the language or the culture but also of an entirely new education system.
Get ready for an international workplace
Businesses want new employees to take a fresh perspective on what they offer and pressure will be on you to improve existing systems. It’s a mistake for new employees to think that they will be taught everything that needs to be known for a role.
Students are more open to new knowledge and expertise when abroad, and that knowledge is often more easily applicable and adaptable to situations requiring international interaction; thus one can expect to be more competitive in today's era of globalization.
Employers are looking to graduates to have international experience either by studying or working abroad. Now there are many more opportunities to study and work abroad, or stay on and work afterwards.
Anyone who is able to put on their CV that they studied abroad is at a great advantage in terms of impressing future employers. At a very basic level it will give you something to talk about in an interview. But much more importantly it will prove to your potential employer that you have the ability to stand on your own two feet, that you can fit in when placed in different environments, and that you are resourceful and have initiative.
Develop your language skills
For many international students, studying abroad is a chance to develop language skills, either through studying in a second language or by practicing the language spoken locally. A growing number of courses around the world are taught in English, particularly at graduate level, and of course proficiency in English has many applications across all kinds of careers. But indeed any additional language skills are an asset.
Language skills obtained while studying abroad will always be beneficial to the student and their home country in both the short- and long-term.
Study in a global hub for your field
Studying abroad is also a great opportunity to spend time in a location which is known as a leading global hub in your field of interest. This could mean you may have opportunities to learn from renowned experts and guest speakers, and perhaps gain some impressive work experience. For example, those studying finance may be attracted to global hubs such as New York, London or Hong Kong, while those interested in politics may be looking at universities in major political centres such as Washington DC or Brussels.
Travel more widely
Studying abroad is a chance to travel more widely around the world region in which you’re based. Obviously you will not just be tied to the university or city you are studying in. You will also have the time and opportunity to travel within and around that country. Country-hopping during holidays and weekends is also possible, depending on where you are based.
Visiting a Student Fair
Studying abroad, whether it be an undergraduate or postgraduate degree, a PhD, or even a short course is an opportunity few people get; a means of exploring the world while simultaneously improving oneself and future employment prospects.
Meet universities face to face
The chance to meet universities face to face, by interacting with official representatives and alumni, is a key benefit of international education fairs. The appeal of getting immediate personalized responses to questions, finding out more about the programs and funding opportunities on offer, and getting an idea of the application process – these are all reasons to attend in person, rather than just stick to online research.
Find out what university admissions officers want
Attending a university fair is also an opportunity to get a better idea of what university admissions officers are looking for – and a chance to start impressing them by showing you have the right qualities. Attributes such as determination, passion and focus were named among the most important.
Attend seminars and presentations
As well as speaking to the university representatives, students can also benefit from the combined knowledge of several expert speakers on a particular topic, by attending some of the seminars and presentations that are a feature of international student fairs, such as Salão do Estudante.
How to Prepare
Colleges want to admit students that are eager and genuinely interested in joining for the right reasons. Seek out those institutions that are of the most interest to you, and go through the questions you’ve prepared for them and anything else that comes to mind that you are unsure of, or will help you choose the place you want to go and study.
You may want to ask about:
· Course Details
· Application Process
· Career Prospects
· Accommodation Options
· Costs, Fees
· Facilities, Groups, Societies
It’s also valuable to talk to other students at the fairs. You are all in the hall for the same reason, and some others may have already studied abroad. Everyone is there to find out more about the experience of studying abroad, so don’t be afraid, and politely ask the others their opinions about particular countries or institutions.
It is important to retain an open mind when visiting an international school fair then- schools can offer all sorts of facilities, time and opportunities for you that you may not have been expecting. You should simply use this time to consider other options while you still have the chance.
You should also remember to keep an open mind about your course options. Previous qualifications or work experience does not limit you to a specific field and in fact previous work in one subject may mean that you have the exact skills and qualities necessary for studies in a different discipline.
Next, you will want to check if there will be any seminars at the fair. The colleges and schools present will usually give talks about specific elements of studying abroad and will take questions. Each seminar will be full of valuable information, but they will run throughout the day. It is a good idea to check out beforehand which talks will be given and plan your day around the ones you want to see the most.
Ideally, with the information obtained at the fair, you will have chosen where you will next study. If not, you will hopefully have gotten enough info to work towards completing your application when you get back home.
If you are yet to make your decision, then don’t fret. Student fairs are just one tool designed to help you find your ideal institution, At least you will have a better idea of the process around studying abroad now, so continue your search and be on the lookout for more upcoming student fairs!