Students should take care to safely study abroad


Katie Gauthier, program coordinator for NIU administered study abroad programs, helps Alecia Eschenbrenner sign forms in preparation for a study abroad program.

By Mary Diamond

Students should begin planning their trips well in advance and take advantage of online resources available for traveling safely, according to the Study Abroad office website.

Students interested in studying abroad this summer have until April 16 to apply for various grants available through NIU’s study abroad office or its outside providers.

Study Abroad Director Anne Seitzinger said the first step to study abroad safety is to register the trip with the U.S. Department of State and to make sure to leave the address and contact information with the consulate.

“During the pre-departure orientation, we talk about registering with the U.S. consulate in whatever country you’re going to, so if there’s an emergency they’ll know where to find you,” Seitzinger said.

Medical conditions and insurance issues are just a few of the factors covered by the health and safety information on the office’s website, which offers downloadable lists and links for students with disabilities.

“Most kids traveling abroad are cash-strapped, under insured or not insured,” said Sheryl Hill, co-founder of Clear Cause Foundation.

The organization was founded by Hill and her husband after their son died on his first trip abroad.

“Students need to be aware that laws are different over there,” Hill said. “The emergency number is 911 in America, but it’s 999 almost everywhere else.”

There are several international programs that help students abroad in times of emergency. Hill recommends the International Student Identification Card, or ISIC. The study abroad office also offers the card and advising services to assist the over 350 students a year in study abroad programs.

Senior English major Lydia Lindenberg recently studied abroad in Ireland.

“We traveled through a reputable booking agency, making sure that we knew where we were going and that we wouldn’t be lead off the beaten path,” Lindenberg said. “Just make sure you plan ahead as much as possible for any foreseeable problem. Make sure you have extra funds in case of any sort of unexpected expense.”

The study abroad office hosts “Study Abroad 101” at 3:30 every Wednesday and Thursday at Williston Hall Room 417 for students interested in traveling overseas.