Peer Advisors

Our peer advisors are here for you! They look forward to telling you about their study abroad experience, as well as sharing budgeting tips and discussing your study abroad planning. Peer advisors are available in the Study Abroad Office on a walk-in basis or by email.

View more student perspectives.

Ahyen Labanan

Year in school: Sophomore

Major: Journalism

Minor: Southeast Asian Studies


Working hours: Tuesday 1 p.m. – 2 p.m.; Wednesday 1 p.m. – 3 p.m.

Study abroad program: Foreign Language and Area Studies, Philippines

I decided to study abroad because receiving a Foreign Language and Area Studies Summer Fellowship to study Filipino language and culture in the Philippines was a once in a lifetime opportunity. I knew that being abroad would allow me to understand Filipino culture better and improve my language skills. The experiences I learned there would help me become a better journalist in the future.

It is important to study abroad because it allows people to become more open minded since they are exposed to other cultures and perspectives. This is especially important today because it allows people to thrive in diverse environments.

Start familiarizing yourself with the opportunities that NIU offers early. From there, you can find a program that is perfect for you and you can plan how to incorporate studying abroad in your schedule.

My favorite adventure was when I went hiking with my classmates and teachers. We hiked Mt. 387 which is in Nueva Ecija, Philippines. That day was really special to me because I saw the beauty of the Philippines in a way I've never seen before. I was also able to bond with everyone. Although the hike was challenging, it still remains the most memorable part of my trip.

Alyse Mommer

Year in school: Senior

Major: Marketing

Minor: Japanese and Chinese


Working hours: Monday, Wednesday 9 – 10:30 a.m.; Friday 9 – 11 a.m.

Study abroad program: USAC: Nishinomiya-Japan Spring 2019, Faculty-led: Summer 2018 China

Other countries you visited: South Korea, Ireland, South America, Mexico, Canada, Caribbean Islands

I had wanted to study abroad in Japan ever since I was little. My main goal was to learn more about the culture as well as to work intensively on my language skills. Going to college in my hometown gave me the urge to go out and see as much of the world as I can.

The knowledge and experience you gain abroad are invaluable, more than words can describe. Going abroad will give you a new perspective that you won’t get in the US, you will learn about yourself and meeting new people that will change your life for the better. It's truly an amazing opportunity that will only benefit you.

Take the leap! Everyone is nervous in the beginning, but you will be so happy that you did. Don’t be afraid to talk to the other students going on the trip and get familiar with them, you guys will spend so much time together and share an amazing experience that will bond you.

My time in Hiroshima was amazing. My Japanese friend who I met while HE was abroad at NIU, took me back to his hometown (Hiroshima). He showed me the most amazing things, from the most tourist sites to getting to see the cool secret places only the locals know about.

Brianna Smyles

Year in school: Senior

Major: Mechanical Engineering


Working hours: Monday 3:30 – 4:30 p.m; Tuesday 2 – 4 p.m; Friday 1 – 3 p.m.

Study abroad program: Advanced manufacturing Processes & Manufacturing Globalization in China Summer 2019

Other countries you visited/specific places visited: Beijing, Suzhou, Shanghai, Zhenjiang, and Hangzhou

I had the opportunity in high school to visit Birmingham and London, England for 10 days and I enjoyed experiencing a new place. However, because England is an English speaking country and we have similar traditions I did not feel like I fully received the shock factor I was looking for. Coming to college I knew I wanted to study abroad whenever the opportunity arrived so I can truly experience the shock factor of another culture and country.

Those who study abroad, personally, I feel view situations, issues, and problems in a new way because they have been exposed to more outside knowledge, outside cultures, outside experience and outside people. Studying abroad truly allows one to not just think of situations for their local communities like home and school, but also for the global community. Those who study abroad embrace differences and encourage understanding all’s viewpoints.

When packing, it is always good to pack a foldable duffle bag to bring in your large suitcase so that you have an extra bag for souvenirs. Another tip, wear layers when traveling if your plane ride is 8+ hours. It gets cold quick on the plane.

Definitely walking the Great Wall of China and an experience tea in Suzhou. We were able to attend a tea school for a day. We saw how ritual tea ceremonies occurred and learned about the variety of tea, its history, and the benefits of each time of tea.

Dee Thelwell

Year in school: Junior

Major: Nursing


Working hours: Monday 10 a.m. – Noon; Thursday 1 – 4 p.m.

Study abroad program: ISA, San Jose, Costa Rica Spring 2019

Other countries you visited/specific places visited: Jamaica

I decided to study abroad because I wanted to improve on my Spanish conversation skills and comprehension, the best way to do that is by immersing yourself into the culture.

Studying abroad is a great way to travel outside of the country, network, learn inside and outside of the classroom, and have a lot of fun.

It's not going to be easy, especially if you're away for months at a time, but when you return you will look back and appreciate the experience even more.

A group of friends that I made and I all decided to go on our own trip to Puerto Viejo, which is the Caribbean side of Costa Rica right off the coast. It was amazing to see how my very own culture was so similar to the people in that town

Evan Blankenberger

Year in school: Senior

Major: Political Science


Working hours: Monday, Wednesday 2 – 3 p.m.; Friday 9 a.m. – Noon

Study abroad program: AIFS Stellenbosch, South Africa Spring 2019

Other countries you visited/specific places visited: Japan, Iceland, Germany, Botswana, Zimbabwe

I’ve always been interested in life in other countries and I decided that college would be the best time to experience living somewhere else. My mom grew up abroad and I wanted to live where she lived to fully appreciate that part of her life and how it has affected me.

I think travel is important to understanding how the world works and why people do the things they do. Studying abroad encourages an understanding of another culture, helping people put their own lives in perspective to the rest of the world. The different perspectives of people and experiences a student would never have had will be invaluable later in life.

Making sure students find the right program for themselves is most important. Students should consider all the factors of a program that they might not have thought of considering; the residence provided, local culture and habits, how easy travel will be, and others. If students are not sure they have found the right program, they should keep looking until they find something perfect for them.

I did a two week road trip with a friend from Germany that I met during my study abroad from Johannesburg to Victoria Falls and back through Botswana. It covered much of Northern South Africa, Western Zimbabwe and the entire country of Botswana. We did river cruises, hikes, safaris, desert camping, city tours, ending in a visit to the town my mom grew up in as an American abroad. It was a very cheap trip and I highly recommend traveling after a program ends, for most people in my program their own travel was the highlight of their study abroad experience.

Sam Lindberg

Year in school: Junior

Major: Journalism

Minor: Sociology and Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies


Working hours: Tuesday 11 a.m. – Noon; Wednesday, Friday 2 – 4 p.m.

Study abroad program: DIS Denmark and Sweden (6-week summer program)

Other countries you visited/specific places visited: Berlin, Germany

Coming to college, I knew I wanted to study abroad because I have always wanted to travel and thought that it would be a great experience. At first, I wasn't quite sure where I wanted to go but I had some family travel to Sweden and after hearing about their trip I knew it was somewhere I wanted to travel to. I specifically chose to travel with DIS because I was interested in the classes they offered.

I think it's important to study abroad because I think understanding and appreciating new or different cultures is an important life skill. It can help you understand people's backgrounds and differences in the workplace and in other life situations. Plus, it’s fun expanding your world view and seeing how your field of study works in a different country.

I would tell students that it's okay to study abroad if this is their first time leaving the country. My trip was the first time I left the country and I was super nervous but after my first day, I realized that everything will be fine. I would also tell students to write out all the deadlines they need to meet while they are still applying. There are going to be lots of deadlines for the NIU Study Abroad Office and lots of deadlines for the organization you'll be traveling with. Having it all written out will help you keep up to date on what you need to complete next.

My favorite excursion was visiting a photo exhibit in Copenhagen, Denmark. The photo exhibit was all of Denmark's photos of the year for various categories. All of the photos were amazing and it was interesting being able to look at Danish culture through this angle. Plus, what made it even better was that we were able to view the exhibit before it was open to the public thanks to my amazing photography teacher.

Contact Us

Study Abroad Office
Williston Hall 417