by Kelsey Baum

College of Charleston students interested in studying abroad recently got a taste  – literally – of different cultures at the 9th Study Abroad Exchange Expo. Hosted each semester since the Fall of 2014 by the Center for International Education (CIE), this fall’s event was co-hosted for the first time with the School of Business to increase awareness of exchange study abroad opportunities. The event promotes the unique exchange programs that the College offers with partner universities across the globe.

Exchange programs are closely affiliated with CofC and create a personalized experience for participating students. Each partner university sends exchange international students to CofC for a semester or a year. CofC students going abroad are able to take courses with local students and learn about another culture firsthand. CofC students pay regular tuition and receive transfer credit for the courses they complete overseas.

The Study Abroad Exchange Expo provides information on programs across the globe. (Photos by Heather Moran)

Held in the Tate Center on Sept. 5, 2018, the expo was comprised of tables showcasing what these study abroad programs have to offer and provided interested students an opportunity to speak with both CofC students who had studied abroad and exchange students from overseas. Students snacked on Haw Flakes, a fruity Chinese candy, while exploring the Chinese exchange program, or sipped on Aranciata, Italian orange juice, while being briefed on an exchange program in Italy.

Prospective study abroad students were guided through the expo based on their personal and academic interests. Melissa Ochal, associate director of the CIE, who works directly with exchange students, was eager to share why these programs mean so much to her.

“The College’s exchange programs really help students make lifelong friendships that extend beyond the study abroad experience itself,” Ochal explained. “Because prospective study abroad students can connect with exchange students at CofC, they can begin to learn about the culture, people, and university before they even arrive.”

Hearing students speak openly about their experience abroad helped interested students imagine themselves going to far flung locations. Sitting at the table for the Greek exchange program, Rebekah McKinney enthusiastically recounted her experience studying in Athens at the American College of Greece during the spring semester.

“Greece began to feel like home for me when I was abroad,” McKinney said. “And when the semester ended, I cried for a week when I returned to the U.S. because I missed it so much!”

To learn more about planning a semester or academic year abroad through one of the College’s exchange programs, visit the CIE website.

Kelsey Baum is a senior from New Jersey studying communication and Italian Studies at the College of Charleston. She is also a member of the Martin Scholars Program and a freelance writer for Her Campus.