Virtual Study Abroad 101
Posted on March 28, 2022 by Charlotte Amsbaugh
Virtual learning and study abroad are two terms that do not seem to connect. The whole point of studying abroad is to travel… right? Not necessarily. Traveling to a new country is a great experience, but it is not the only point of studying abroad. Cross-cultural experiences, language learning and barriers, international friends, and studying in a new environment are just some of the study abroad benefits that can be received from home! But what exactly does it entail? A virtual program is a recent development due to COVID-19. It is taught through a university in another country, by instructors in that country, and could cover a wide range of courses you need. In my case, it was a Korean language program through the University of Korea. Though I was home, I still experienced language barriers in trying to talk to my teacher and the other students I was with, and it helped me to better communicate and problem solve. Our exams were set up differently than the language courses I have had at South. They were more open-ended and greatly improved my proficiency. Even on zoom I was still able to make friends from other countries who I continue to keep in touch with! It may seem like the cultural component would be missing, but my program had various cultural immersions prepared to teach us about the history, culture, food, and music (both modern and traditional) of their country! Perhaps one of the most surprising things that was not missed was jet lag! My classes were scheduled in KST, meaning I got to adjust to the time zone there and attend classes from 1-3:30am central time, much to the delight of everyone in my household. For people who are interested in study abroad but have commitments in the United States they cannot part with (I couldn’t bring myself to leave my dog all summer) or feel like maybe it is too far from home, virtual programs are a great choice! It also makes it far more affordable. Airfare and housing are no longer a cost to consider, and you can keep a job you may currently have while you are studying abroad. Virtual programs make study abroad more easily accessible, not to mention pandemic safe!