Hadeel Farhan has spent the last two years thinking about Italy. In 2020, the third-year computer science student decided she wanted to go on Professor Peter Wiederspahn’s Dialogue of Civilizations to Italy. She was looking for something new–something different from her desk-bound computer science classes–and Wiederspahn’s month-long on-site study of Italian architecture fit the bill. Farhan applied to the program and, to her delight, got accepted. Farhan attended the first orientation session, and she grew even more excited. She headed out for spring break with Italy’s countryside and sunbaked terracotta roofs on her mind. Then, COVID-19 hit.
As international travel writ large ground to a halt, Northeastern canceled its study abroad and Dialogue programs before making some virtual. A few Dialogues returned in summer 2021, but not Farhan’s Italian dream trip. So, she waited. And when Farhan, who is entering her fourth and final year, saw that the Italian Dialogue would be returning this summer she leapt at her last chance to go to Italy. “I didn’t let myself get excited because I was concerned about the fact that it could have gotten canceled last minute,” Farhan said. “I was really happy that I actually made it to Italy.”
Northeastern’s campuses have been open and fully operational for almost two years, and professors and students are now also embracing the opportunity to venture outside the country. The university offers experimental leaving programs, including co-ops and Dialogues, in 146 countries and on all continents. The Dialogues bring students to over 75 countries, including Spain, Israel, Switzerland, Argentina and Hungry, just to name a few. While there’s been plenty of excitement, many programs have had to change in response to the pandemic and its challenges.