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NU-Q students plan to live, learn in Evanston this winter

Annie Chang

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For at least seven Northwestern upperclassmen, this January could be the first time they ever set foot on the Evanston campus.

Northwestern in Qatar hopes to send an already-selected group of Communication students from the University’s satellite campus in Education City, Doha, to study abroad this winter, said John Margolis, dean of NU-Q and its chief executive officer. The students will stay through the end of Spring Quarter. They are in the process of finalizing their visas and working out other technical issues, Margolis said.

That hasn’t prevented the students from taking to Facebook to share their excitement about being selected, though.

Junior Nayaab Shaikh said the students don’t yet know where they will live or what classes they’ll be taking, but she and her classmates are counting down the days until they arrive in Chicago. Shaikh first visited the U.S. last May, when some NU-Q students took a trip to the Evanston campus.

“I completely fell in love with Chicago when I went,” she said. “When I found out I got accepted to go in January, I said, ‘Oh, my God, wish fulfilled! I’m going back!'”

The application process for study abroad began last May when Shaikh and 14 of her classmates learned they were eligible because of their 3.0-plus GPAs. One week later, they began filling out applications consisting of an essay and a list of their preferred courses.

The student exchange has been in the works since the Qatar campus was established three years ago, said Richard Roth, senior associate dean of Medill for NU-Q. He said the program is crucial in providing the Qatar students with the best education possible.

“The education, we believe, is the same in both countries, but in a different culture,” Roth said. “They’re going to see what’s going on in the U.S., which will be a richer environment for them.”

Administrators purposefully waited until the students were juniors to let them study abroad, he said.

Qatar’s Medill students will have to wait to take classes in Evanston, though many of their journalism residencies will take place in the Chicago area, Margolis said. NU policy currently prohibits Qatar students from spending more than one semester abroad. Therefore, journalism students cannot participate in a study abroad program in addition to a residency, which isrequired for their degree.

For Shaikh, the diverse course options are the best part about studying on the Evanston campus.

“How can you only take four classes?” the Communication junior said. “I want to take 10, which unfortunately is not possible. There are so many classes, and they all seem so interesting.”

Allowing these students to see and take classes on the Evanston campus is the last link between the two campuses, Roth said.

“They’ll be unhappy to find that each weekend is not Dillo Day, but they’ll get to see football games and experience snow and blizzards,” he said.

Omer Mohammad said he and his classmates, especially those who visited Evanston last summer, already feel connected to NU’s Evanston community. But just as importantly, he said they have formed their own family in Doha.

“We’ve developed a community that’s so full and so rich,” the Communication junior said. “Everyone knows each other, loves each other. But when we go to Chicago, we’ll fit in just as well. We try to reach out just as much as we do at home, and we’ll receive just as much love.”

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