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Study abroad provides ‘priceless’ opportunity

September 10, 2013
Sarah Steubing and friend

Sarah Steubing and friend

When senior biological sciences major Sarah Stuebing wanted to conduct an independent research project following her sophomore year at Northern Illinois University, she found a program that would allow her to work at the only primate rehabilitation program in Argentina.

But Argentina is a long way from her hometown of DeKalb, and the cost of travel was prohibitive.

Luckily, she found the resources on campus that made study abroad possible.

“When I saw the price of the trip, I started to ask around NIU for different ideas of how I could make this possible,” Stuebing says. “I found out that the university has many grants to support students studying abroad and who are conducting research.”

Stuebing’s trip quickly became a research project, and she was able to spend five weeks in La Cumbre, Argentina, where she volunteered at an animal shelter caring for a wide variety of animals, researching the interactions and facial expressions of black howler monkeys.

Her project was funded by grants from the following NIU organizations:

“The animal and research experience I gained is priceless, and I know it will help me as I continue toward my goal of studying veterinary medicine,” adds Stuebing, who plans on graduating in May 2014 with minors in chemistry and Spanish. “I learned more in those six weeks than I could learn in any classroom because I had the chance to live and breathe the language as well as the culture.”

For those interested in being the next Sarah Stuebing, the NIU Study Abroad Office will hold its 21st annual Study Abroad Fair from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 18, in the Duke Ellington Ballroom of the Holmes Student Center.

“While there are a lot of hurdles students believe they face in regards to study abroad, we encourage those interested to attend the fair or Study Abroad 101 to learn how study abroad can become a reality,” says Deborah Pierce, the associate provost who oversees the Division of International Programs.

Photo of a U.S. passportThe fair is designed for all students who are interested in studying abroad and who would like to receive more information.

With more than 300 programs in 80 different countries ranging from two weeks to an entire academic year, there is a study abroad option for every student in any major. All programs offer academic credit to be applied to a student’s major, minor or general electives. Students have the ability to speak with representatives from all programs, including NIU faculty members who direct short-term study abroad programs worldwide and agents from independent study abroad organizations.

NIU Student Financial Aid Office staff members will be present to answer questions about financial aid and to provide information on grants, loans and scholarships.

Students who aren’t able to attend the fair can plan to attend an informative presentation and question-and-answer session titled, “Study Abroad 101: First Steps to Study Abroad.” Study Abroad 101 content is the same at each session, so students need only attend once to learn the basics. The presentation will be offered at 3:30 p.m. every Wednesday and Thursday in the NIU Study Abroad Office.

Both the Study Abroad Fair and Study Abroad 101 are free and open to the public. For more information, call (815) 753-0700 or email [email protected].