It’s the new reality of study abroad for Wright State University students brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
A sampling of those opportunities is showcased at the Virtual Study Abroad Fair Oct. 6–9 by Wright State’s University Center for International Education (UCIE).
“While this is not the norm, we are excited to offer this new innovative experience right to your home,” said Joy Wanderi, director of UCIE’s education abroad and exchange programs. “The Study Abroad Fair offers self-paced videos but also live sessions to give our students an opportunity to learn more about the what, the how and the whys of study abroad.”
A few Wright State students are participating in virtual study abroad this semester.
Sandrine Faith Izabiliza, an international business major, has a virtual internship with a company in Melbourne, Australia, while taking a full load of classes at Wright State.
“This has increased my exposure to their culture and how business is done there,” she said. “While I would never envision studying abroad virtually. It has been one of the greatest and exciting experiences. I cannot wait to explore and learn more from the company.”
The weeklong Virtual Study Abroad Fair features a series provided by various Wright State partners, including financial aid and study abroad alumni. The sessions were carefully selected to help students plan for either a virtual or a physical experience in the future.
“While we cannot replace the physical presence in another country, the new virtual global learning has allowed us to recreate learning a new language, a new culture, and expanding our horizons right from the comfort and safety of our homes,” said Wanderi. “These programs are affordable and accessible to all of our students.”
Megan Trickler, education abroad coordinator, said students can access the videos from the fair at any time and from anywhere.
“We are looking ahead to summer 2021 travel experiences, and this online fair helps students discover the incredible opportunities being planned,” said Trickler. “Students from all levels of study, and from all majors, are invited to participate in these short-term, group excursions led by Wright State faculty.”
Monica Ratliff, education abroad advisor, said it is the first time a Virtual Study Abroad Fair experience has been created for students.
“To create it, we decided to design our own interactive fair landing page complete with videos,” she said. “We also decided to host live Webex Q&A sessions over a series of topics we hope students would like to engage with.”
It is hoped that in-person study abroad programs will resume in 2021.
Nine Wright State students received State Department scholarships to study abroad in 2021, a dramatic increase from previous years. Typically, about two Wright State students receive Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarships per funding cycle. The nine scholarships awarded this year, which totaled $35,200, followed numerous Gilman Scholarship workshops held by UCIE.
Wright State’s study abroad programs offer the opportunity to earn academic credit, enhance global competence, increase cross-cultural awareness and sensitivity, enhance global competence, develop problem-solving skills in a cross-cultural environment and distinguish résumés with an international experience.
The study abroad Ambassador Programs provide an opportunity for students to study for one to four weeks during summer, winter or spring break and are led by faculty members.
The Exchange Programs enable students to travel to Wright State partner institutions. While many of the programs require students to take classes in the foreign language of their host country, some programs are conducted in English. Students have the option of studying abroad in the summer, for a semester, or a full year.
The External Partner Programs are offered by professional organizations and enable students to study for a summer, semester or an academic year. Students can study on six continents in 40 countries and in most cases without prior language experience. These programs include courses for most Wright State majors and minors.
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