Studies offered

By Kevin Lyons

Do you ever feel a burning need to get out of DeKalb? Even out of the country? How about for a few weeks? How about for a semester?

NIU offers a wide variety of foreign study programs from Mexico City to Osaka, Japan, in just as wide a variety of curriculums.

There are 34 semester-length academic programs overseas and 26 short-term summer and winter trips.

“The programs significantly enhance the knowledge base of a student. For example, a business student can spend a semester in Japan studying business,” Ines Deromana-Checa, foreign studies program coordinator said. “Time spent overseas is well spent.”

She also pointed out that employers value the cultural experience tremendously. “The trip will go on your transcripts. It shows an employer that you have initiative, resourcefulness and independence.”

“A lot of the best graduate schools are requiring students to go overseas as well,” Deromana-Checa said.

On the average, about 220 students take advantage of foreign studies programs each semester. About 250 students spend their summers overseas with the NIU programs.

Deromana-Checa admitted that the programs can be quite expensive but said most students aren’t aware that financial aid is available.

Semester programs include studies in Argentina for social sciences, Australia for political science, Denmark for international business, England for music studies and Russia for Russian language to name a few.

Some of the short-term programs include student teaching in Australia, England and Spain; media and culture in Ireland; literature studies in Cambridge, England and Germany and tropical biology in Costa Rica.

Some NIU students said they were very happy with the programs and considered the money well spent.

“I spent well over $5,000. I got a student loan and I don’t have a phone now, but it was worth it. It was quite an experience,” said Christine Funk, sophomore, English major, about her trip to Cambridge, England last summer to study Shakespeare and Chaucer.

Funk said there were about 10 NIU students and many other American students. They also visited Scotland and Amsterdam in addition to studying at Cambridge.

“It was great to be young in England and on your own with no money,” she added.

Keith Izumi, senior, operations management and information systems, spent a Christmas break in Egypt for an internship program for 28 days.

“It was probably the best experience I had associated with NIU,” Izumi said. “We visited offshore oil fields, factories and other industries.”

He received three internship credits toward his major for the 28-day excursion. Izumi said it cost him about $3,000, which he financed himself.

“It was much more than an educational experience,” Izumi said. “The benefits outweighed the price of the trip by a lot.”

Izumi also landed an internship with Unysis Corporation, which he largely credits the overseas experience with.

Carole Burke, graduate student, communications, spent a five-week study program on “Media and Culture in Ireland.”

“It’s a life-changing experience. You begin to realize that the world doesn’t revolve around the U.S.,” Burke said.

Burke said she borrowed money from a family member to take the trip where she studied Irish film, literature and journalism. She earned six credit hours over the summer trip.

urke also got the opportunity to stay with a host family to help her adjust to the cultural change.

“It was really a great opportunity to learn firsthand from a culture,” she said.