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NIU students ‘Discover Montreal’ during week-long study abroad trip

July 10, 2013

NIU students pose for a photo outside of the Université de Montréal.

This summer, NIU honors students got a taste of the Great White North when they visited St. Joseph’s Oratory and the Moment Factory, learned about Canada’s Medicare system and video game industry, and sampled local foods – such as poutine and queue de castor – during the “Discover Montreal” short-term study abroad program.

“Discovering Montreal” is one of two Vision 2020 initiatives launched to increase student participation in study abroad. The program is a partnership among the NIU Study Abroad Office, the NIU University Honors Program and the Université de Montréal. Anne L. Birberick, vice provost and associate professor of French, served as the program director.

Students enrolled in the program earned three credit hours that could be used towards fulfilling university honors requirements.

“A global experience is one of the cornerstones of the University Honors program,” said J.D. Bowers, associate vice provost for the NIU University Honors Program. “The Montreal program introduces our students to the broader spectrum of world cultures and issues and stands to become one of the signature offerings of our program.”

During their week in Montreal, students attended lectures by distinguished members of the Université de Montréal faculty in the mornings. These sessions ranged from history lessons of Quebec, to Canada’s Medicare system, to an overview of the video game industry in Montreal. Afternoons were excursions that expanded and reflected the topic of the day.


A view of St. Joseph Oratoire Montreal in Cotes de Neige.

“I enjoyed the connections that were made between all the elements of the program,” said NIU business major Linnea Scherer. “We got to see many important aspects of Montreal and how they interacted with each other.”

Montreal, known as “Canada’s Cultural Center,” provided students with an unparalleled educational experience.

“Montreal has art displayed everywhere you go,” said NIU pre-med major Noemi Rodriguez. “One can find art on the wall, in the middle of the street, in the metro stations, on a building and even in some bathrooms. Art is literally everywhere, which makes Montreal such a unique place to visit. I miss Montreal’s art already.”

Montreal’s uniqueness also came to the forefront with a visit to the Moment Factory, a media and entertainment studio specializing in the production of interactive media installations. Students saw first-hand how video, lightening, architecture, sound and special effects came together to create amazing events for clients such as Madonna, Cirque du Soleil and Nine Inch Nails.

“Discovering Montreal” will be offered again next summer. Because the study abroad experience is a one-week program, students can participate and return in time for summer jobs and course work.

First-time study abroad participant and media major Juliana Leprich said students should take advantage of the experience.

“Students should consider ‘Discovering Montreal’ if they are excited about study abroad opportunities, but have concerns about how to handle finances, being away from home or traveling on their own,” Leprich said. “The week-long excursion is a way to address all of those concerns without the stress of planning for a month or semester-long program. Going there has further motivated me to pursue other study abroad options – Montreal’s a fantastic place.”