ECC goes global: students come from abroad


Allison Formeller

A map depicting the cities in which the international students at ECC come from. Located near the cafeteria in Building B.

Allison Formeller, Staff writer

When you think about studying abroad, what do you think of first? Beautiful, foreign landscapes, a new culture or maybe exotic foods? Walking along the hallway at Elgin Community College, nearly every bulletin board has at least one poster urging ECC students to experience these new cultures, landscapes, and foods by studying abroad in Spain, Ireland, Austria or China. What’s not advertised is the amount of ECC students who already come from abroad and their unique experiences.

“One of the reasons I chose to study abroad in the US is that I wanted to expose myself to an English-speaking environment so that I can improve [my] English faster,” Minjee Woo, an international student from Incheon, South Korea, and a recent graduate from ECC said. 

This is true for many international students at ECC and one of the benefits of ECC’s study abroad program.

“There are many benefits to international students to study at ECC compared to a four-year university or college: affordable tuition, quality instruction, small class sizes and a full-time Intensive English Program that can accommodate any level of English,” said Lauren Nelson, the Study Abroad Coordinator at ECC. “The college also offers an International Student Homestay Program for full-time international students… [which] provides a unique opportunity for international students to reside in an American home as a member of the family.” 

Regardless of the many benefits of studying abroad, getting sent to an entirely different country is not always easy.

“I remember I felt culture shock and I felt really awkward,” Woo said. “I actually had a hard time making friends at first.”

This is a common experience among international students – being surrounded by people who don’t speak your language and have completely different customs is a big adjustment to make.

According to Nehlson about 30 students leave to study abroad per academic year.

Many more students come from abroad. ECC currently hosts students from Asia, Europe, Africa, South America, and Canada.

“ECC students who wish to study abroad can choose from short-term summer programs to semester-long opportunities. Available programs are listed on the college’s website at There are many countries and programs to choose from,” Nehlson said.

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