Students study and work abroad

February 20, 2011

Northwestern University in Qatar kicked off two key components of its curriculum this semester as a group of more than 15 students began study and professional residency programs abroad.

A group of select juniors from both the communication and journalism programs are studying or working in the United States this term. Eleven journalism students have won professional residencies at news organizations in Chicago, Illinois or Washington D.C. Five communication students have elected to spend the semester studying communication at Northwestern’s Evanston, Illinois campus.

The opportunity to spend educational time abroad is unique at Northwestern and showcases the University’s dedication to educating competent global professionals.

“Students benefit tremendously from time spent in class in Doha,” said Debra Wood, associate dean of student affairs at Northwestern University in Qatar. “But the opportunity to attend class or participate in a professional residency abroad is critically important to educating students who will thrive in today’s global community and economy.”

Indeed, students who are studying in Evanston have already benefited from their experience since arriving at the beginning of January.

“The courses I’ve taken here in Evanston have had a huge impact on my life already,” said Omer Mohammad, a junior in the communication program. “And next quarter should be even better. I’m picking the courses I want to take, and really capitalizing on my last quarter in Evanston.”

For journalism students the professional residencies in the United States are an opportunity to use the skills and theory they learn in Doha in a live environment.

“Our supervisors are expecting a lot of us,” said Shannon Farhoud, a journalism junior who won a residency at National Geographic’s Mission Media. “The stuff we’re doing is going to be going on the radio and on TV.”

While the goal of both the study abroad and journalism residencies are to further academic and professional competency, living abroad offers the opportunity to explore new interests and experience new things.

“I’ve already crossed a bunch of things off my bucket list,” said Mohammad. “I’ve had the chance to see one of my favorite bands perform live. I met an artist who I’ve looked up to for years. I’ve taken part in rallies, and events outside and inside of Evanston. I’ve explored Chicago’screvices from morning to night. It’s a beautiful feeling.”

For many students simply living far from family will be an opportunity to learn and experience something new. Students will be responsible for every aspect of their lives – from getting to work on time to keeping up their apartments to cooking and cleaning.

“I’ll learn a lot about how to work, live independently and handle things on my own,” said Shereena Qazi, a journalism junior who won a residency at Chicago’s WGN-TV.

Qazi lives in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago with five female classmates. Farhoud lives with five female classmates in a Washington D.C. apartment. And Mohammad lives in an all-male dorm on the Evanston campus.

Though students live largely independently while in the U.S., each has support from a University staff member in the city where they are based if needed.

The value of international experience is clear to the students.

“When I get back to Doha, I will be a different person,” Mohammad said. “I think the experiences, the people and the places I’ve seen here have already left a mark on me.”

“I’ve been received by this community with such kindness and care that I don’t know how to react” he said. “I’m a stranger to them, yet they invite me into their homes and help me stay headstrong through it all. The place is wonderful and the friends that I’ve made here will be lifelong.”