Opportunities abroad available to students

By Julie Zvitkovits

Japan, Austria, Mexico, France, Germany, Spain, Italy—foreign study opportunities for NIU students include these countries and many more.

The Foreign Study Office, in Wirtz Hall, and the Office of International and Special Programs, in Lowden Hall, can offer students the chance to study abroad while gaining credit hours.

“Students really experience a totally different environment, yet make progress toward an NIU degree,” said Ines DeRomana, Foreign Study program coordinator.

Students must have at least sophomore standing and a minimum GPA of 2.5 to be eligible to study overseas. Along with their application, each student must submit a statement of purpose for their study abroad.

Foreign study is an opportunity for students to experience what they have studied. “I wanted to see it for myself,” said Timothy Zwica, an art major who studied in Salzburg, Austria last year.

“You learn a foreign language,” said Kristina Hahn, an NIU freshman from Germany. “It’s a bigger challenge to study in a foreign language.”

NIU foreign study programs are not student exchanges, except for the Japan program. Classes for NIU students in Japan are conducted in English, but this is not true of all foreign study programs.

There are certain programs for foreign language majors and non-paying internships available to students, DeRomana said.

Students traveling abroad during the academic year usually carry a load of 12 or 15 credit hours, said Lita Kenyon, research associate in the Foreign Study Program. Students can gain credit toward their studies, including internships.

Students can live in private homes, university residence halls or independent housing, Kenyon said. A single semester average cost is $5,000, not including airfare, she added.

A coordinating office in the country conducts an orientation upon arrival for the students and helps them with any problems that might arise during their stay, DeRomana said.

Students can travel to other cities or countries on weekends to discover more of Europe, she said. Many use the Eurorail system, and due to recent developments, countries that were closed can now be visited by students, DeRomana said.

The Office of International and Special Programs offers a summer study travel program. Students are accompanied by a faculty member from NIU or another participating college.

The faculty member serves as lecturer, seminar director, and organizer for the group, said Anne Seitzinger, secretary of International and Special Programs. Through the summer program students earn a maximum of 9 credit hours, she said.

A Foreign Study Programs Open House will be held at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Wirtz House. Interested students can meet with students who have participated in a foreign study program.