Students ask about studying abroad at ‘speed dating’ event

By Dan Doren

Students’ questions about safety, payment, transportation and culture shock were answered by past participants in NIU’s study abroad programs at the study abroad speed dating event Wednesday at Altgeld Hall, room 100.

Hosted by First- and Second-Year Experience, six representatives of study abroad sat across from six students who were curious about what the programs had to offer. After about five minutes, students would get up and rotate to speak with another representative.

Ann Hodal, graduate teaching assistant for the Department of Communication, was one of the representatives at the event. She said she had studied abroad twice at NIU, in the Philippines and in England, and was particularly impressed with how well-structured NIU at Oxford was.

“I got to pick my courses before I went; I took two courses: one Shakespeare English class and then one political science course about the Beatles,” she said. “And then, once I got there, I had class every day, Monday through Friday. And then the weekends were ours to use for free time and travel.”

Hodal said she enjoyed answering students’ questions, particularly when students asked about whether they should wait to apply or not.

“I definitely think, if it’s something that you want to do, you should work towards it as soon as possible,” she said. “Learning abroad gives you a lot of experience that you can draw from later on, and it gives you a lot of travel confidence, which I think is important.”

Hannah Secor, sophomore communicative disorders major, said she asked many questions about how to become involved in a study abroad program.

“I wasn’t really sure how long the process would take, or when you should start preparing for the process,” she said. “[The representatives were] very helpful.”

Secor said she was interested in learning about different cultures and that possessing this knowledge from experience would be helpful upon returning to the U. S.

“You can compare [cultures],” she said. “You can take this new alternative information, and it just shapes you as an individual.”

At the end of the event, students were handed evaluation forms to fill out for First- and Second-Year Experience. Some of the questions were about whether students had a better understanding of study abroad opportunities and the two most useful ideas they learned.

The Study Abroad Office is hosting a peer adviser Q&A panel titled The Honest Truth About Studying Abroad, which is scheduled from 5 to 6 p.m. Thursday at Holmes Student Center, Room 405, according to the events calendar.