As the spring semester starts, the process of adjusting back to life in Iowa also begins for 12 Northwestern students. From Aug. 31 to Dec. 13 of last year, these students took a study abroad opportunity in Romania, a fall study abroad program offered annually.
While studying in Romania, students have the chance to live in and explore a variety of places in Romania. Students stayed in Lupeni for five weeks with a host family and other parts of the country in apartments.
A schedule with 16 credits of classes are taken: sustainable development, Romanian language, culture and history and experiential education. These courses fulfill NW’s required language and cross-cultural credits, too. Elissa O’Dell, a senior in the group of 12 students, enjoyed the classwork.
“It was a normal amount of in-class time, but we did a lot of exploring and learning through experiences,” she said.
NW’s Romania study abroad program is an opportunity offering many new experiences and chances to receive credits. Ashley Van Egdom, a sophomore, chose to go to Romania because it fulfilled her credits, but she also felt the opportunity was one she would never get again since the cost to do so is the same as one semester on-campus.
For others, it was a split-second decision. Sophomore Faith Wolbrink waited to apply until two days prior to the application deadline.
“In a not cheesy way, I felt like God was calling me to go there. The longer I looked at the program and the benefits, the more it seemed I would be stupid not to sign up,” she said.
For all three women, traveling to Romania was too good to pass up. These three also had the opportunity to see sights uncommon to the Midwest landscape.
O’Dell spent her fall break away from Romania, choosing to travel to the capitals of Italy, Greece and Hungary. While there, she visited the Spanish Steps, the Pantheon, Roman architecture and the Acropolis.
One of Van Edgom’s favorite experiences was touring old castles.
“A friend and I were exploring this castle together, and we found a narrow walkway that lead to a tower. We were interested and made our way across the crumbling wall. We relaxed in the tower and enjoyed the view before deciding to go back and look at more of the castle,” she said.
For Wolbrink and junior Alison Painter, they enjoyed hiking and camping through the Retezat Mountains, one of the highest mountain ranges in the country.
Painter said, “I remember climbing up the side of a mountain to find this cave that we were going to sleep in overnight. I never thought I would be in the mountains in Romania sleeping in a cave with some of the greatest people around.”
Van Edgom appreciates the new perspective Romania has given her.
She said, “I honestly didn’t know how privileged Americans were until I left that comfortable little bubble created in my home. However, that doesn’t mean that the people in Romania are any less happy than Americans.”
O’Dell agreed, “It’s important to look at your home and your situation with an outsider’s view. There’s not only one side of the story. A lot of times there is a lot that we can’t see inside of our own context. Looking at your home and your country from a different perspective is really valuable.”
“What are you waiting for?” asked Painter to those considering studying abroad.
Wolbrink said, “If you feel like God is calling you to go, GO!”
For those interested in a new experience, the application deadline for the Fall 2020 Romania semester is Feb. 10.