Students enjoy cultural differences

Alisa Fox

Some of the many programs that Northern offers to its students are their study abroad programs. They have a variety of ways to bring students out of the country including semester long exchange programs, faculty-led focused courses, and volunteer opportunities. There are many exciting options that can fit almost any student’s needs.

Whether they are interested in Renaissance history in Italy, linguistic studies in Austria, or even health care in Peru, there are a multitude of opportunities. Sarah Liske, a junior studying accounting at Northern, is spending part of her summer studying business in Germany.

Sarah and friends pose in front of one of Europe’s many ancient buildings. Each weekend they take a trip to many of Europe’s famous cities.

“It was perfect for business students. The topics we are learning were relevant for my studies and it was an exchange program with Northern,” said Liske

Although Liske’s program is not faculty led, she said that she received a lot of help from the faculty and staff in the International Program Department at NMU.

“I didn’t go with faculty, but Dr. Steinhaus taught the first class we attended and she really made it seem like a great experience,” said Liske.

A common concern among students who are interested in study abroad is the financial aspect. Even though it costs thousands of dollars for most study abroad programs, NMU works with their students to make the costs achievable with a combination of grants, scholarships, and financial aid.

Liske said that the cost was worth it. Not only do students get to experience a different culture when they study in a different country, but they have the chance to make international friends.

NMU students in Germany as well as in other countries have had many new learning experiences with the German culture while exploring cities and discovering new traditions.

“I loved learning about how people do things in different countries. You meet new people and there are so many experiences and you just learn something new every day. I’ve met some amazing people and done some amazing things,” Liske said.

Brittany Woodard, a junior studying marketing at Northern has also enjoyed her experiences in a different country. She is spending part of her summer in Italy according to her interest in international businesses.

“Possibly the best thing about visiting a different country is how much it opens your eyes to completely different aspects of life and helps you emotionally grow as an individual,” Woodard said.

It is not all sugarplums and roses, though. Many students find it difficult to assimilate into a different culture. Communication is a common source of frustration, and there are also many things that we can take for granted that aren’t found in different countries like microwaves, free water or free use of a bathroom.

Woodard said, “The most difficult thing about visiting a different country is of course trying to communicate with locals, but also getting accustomed to the ways they live their lives. For instance, here in Italy, shops close 1-4 p.m. each day so people can take an afternoon nap and escape the sun. Then they reopen until about 7 p.m. Dinner is then typically eaten around 8-9 p.m. which is very hard to get use to.”

The students in Germany have found that assimilating into another culture is not as scary as it sounds. In fact, many students who study abroad come back saying that it was one of the greatest experiences of their lives.

Despite these cultural differences, Woodard says she has enjoyed being in Italy for many various reasons.

“Honestly, I could not pick out one favorite experience. This whole trip so far has been an amazing experience in all aspects from learning the culture, exploring the historic city, eating the delicious food, to studying the ways of business,” Woodard said.

Woodard’s advice to anyone who is even thinking about studying abroad is to just go for it.

“No matter if it’s a faculty-led study abroad trip, or an individual one like mine, if you want to go, do not hesitate. There are always ways to work out financing a trip. It is truly a life changing experience that will benefit your entire future and honestly improve your life for the better,” said Woodard.

If you are interested in any of the study abroad programs, contact the International Programs Department at (906)-227-2510. For more information about resources for study abroad or financial aid check out www.nmu.edu/InternationalPrograms.