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Très bon! Honors students ‘discover’ Montreal

July 1, 2014
Students learn about Canadian Health Care and tour the Hotel Dieu Hospital Museum.

Students learn about Canadian Health Care and tour the Hotel Dieu Hospital Museum.

NIU honors students got a summer taste of French Canada during the “Discovering Montreal” short-term study abroad program.

Along the way, they:

  • learned about Montreal’s film, video game and entertainment industries;
  • visited La Cinematheque Quebecoise and the Moment Factory, designers of the Madonna Super Bowl half-time entertainment;
  • explored unique features of Canada’s Medicare system; and
  • sampled local foods, such as poutine and queue de castor.

“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, assisted by Melissa Adams-Campbell, assistant professor of English.

Students enrolled in the program earned three credit hours that could be used toward 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. Afternoon excursions expanded and reflected the topic du jour.

Students and faculty visit the Moment Factory.

Students and faculty visit the Moment Factory.

“This program is enriching, worthwhile, very afforadable and enlightening. I would recommend it to any and every student seeking to study abroad through NIU,” said NIU student James Gorman.

“Dr. Birberick and Dr. Melissa Adams-Campbell are excellent for the program and made everything run seamlessly. The on-site staff through UdeMontreal were also excellent. If nothing about the program changed, it would still be a more than excellent experience.”

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

Anne Birberick

Anne Birberick

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.

Past 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.”