Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern


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Expanded study abroad program attracts more students

Karen Russell had no intention of studying abroad when she arrived on campus in 1999. Now she plans on spending next year at the University of Seville in Spain.

“I didn’t think I’d have the time, but then I talked to this guy who’d been abroad, and he said it changed his life,” said Russell, a Weinberg sophomore. “Everyone I talked to was really enthusiastic and said it was the best experience.”

Applications for study abroad programs starting next fall are due today, and the Study Abroad Office expects to receive a 34-percent increase in applications over last year.

The office estimates that the number of students studying abroad in 2001-02 will be nearly double the number in 1997, the office’s first year.

In the 1998-99 year, including the summer of 1998, 252 students studied abroad. In 1999-2000 that number inched up to 282. This year the number jumped to 378.

Bill Anthony, director of the Study Abroad Office, said he expects about 450 students to go abroad next year.

When Jennifer Hirsch applied to study in Japan 13 years ago, she was part of a much smaller group. In 1988 there was no Study Abroad Office to guide her through the process.

Hirsch, a 1990 Northwestern graduate, is now assistant director of student services at the Study Abroad Office. She spent her junior year studying at Waseda University in Tokyo.

“I don’t remember thinking much about the process,” she said. “Our Japanese class told us what program to apply to.”

Hirsch didn’t have the multitude of options available to students today.

“There were just these file cabinets in the Office of Undergraduate Studies,” she said. “I don’t remember doing any research, you just sat and looked at the few files they had. I’m sure the university didn’t promote it.”

When the Study Abroad Office opened, it offered 11 affiliated programs. Today there are more than 100, Hirsch said. Affiliated programs allow NU students to continue to receive their full financial aid.

Anthony attributes much of the growth in popularity to better advertising and awareness on campus.

“Word of mouth is the best way to get students interested,” he said. “Students are having these interesting experiences abroad and coming back and talking it up.”

Anthony said the fact that students no longer have to study abroad for a full year and have access to programs in more locations also has added to the popularity.

The university is committed to making study abroad available to everybody, Anthony said, and the Office of Financial Aid has worked hard to make sure that money isn’t an obstacle.

“The entire university, from (University) President (Henry) Bienen on down, supports and encourages the study abroad program,” Anthony said.

Monica Eftimie studied in Paris in fall 2000 with the Boston University program. She said the Study Abroad Office held programs last spring before she left and kept in contact with her while she was abroad.

“While we were in Paris, they e-mailed us several times, especially before registration in November,” said Eftimie, a Speech junior. “They sent the BU office a course packet to help us out with winter class registration.”

Eftimie said the office wasn’t so helpful when she was deciding what program to apply to, but said that once she knew, they were attentive.

“They help you out with the application process and guide you through,” she said.

Hirsch, who came to the office in October, said currently she is working on putting together more materials to help students better identify which program fits their interests.

“I’m really trying to improve education before and after they go,” she said. “The meaning can be deepened and enriched if students are better prepared socially, culturally, academically.”

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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881
Expanded study abroad program attracts more students