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Virtual Study Abroad: Is it Worth It?

World Monuments | Graphic by Kayli Thompson | The Wright State Guardian


With the coronavirus pandemic restricting travel abroad, the University Center for International Education (UCIE) has begun virtual study abroad programs at Wright State University (WSU).  

The experience  

In partnership with international non-profit organizations, the UCIE is giving WSU students the opportunity to learn from international professors from the comfort of their own home.  

Students can take part in synchronous classes or internships from over 50 countries in a variety of fields and disciplines. For a complete list of countries and areas of study, visit the UCIE website  

https://studyabroad.wright.edu

“They’re synchronous classes and you work hand-in-hand with the professor from that part of the world in a class, like we do now at Wright State. However, the class is taking place, for example, in France,” said Education Abroad Coordinator Megan Trickler.  

The benefits  

The virtual study abroad programs, despite seeming contradictory, have several benefits. The first being that students can save on the cost of international study compared to a normal study abroad program.  

“You don’t have to pay for airfare or a passport, you don’t have to worry about any of that kind of thing. You can continue your job, continue living here in the U.S, but still have international experience to put on your resume,” said Trickler.  

Just like with normal study abroad programs, if students choose to take a full semester of virtual study abroad classes, the price of tuition will be waived and they will only need to pay the program fee. Financial aid and scholarships are still available for virtual study abroad.  

Another benefit is that students who want to add international experience to their resumes can still do so during the pandemic. According to Trickler, having international education experience or internship experience is a great addition to any resume. 

The virtual study abroad programs can also help students become comfortable with international education before traveling to and living in another country to study abroad.   

“Another plus to the virtual programs is that if you’re a student that is here for another year or two and you’re kind of unsure, this really gives you the confidence that you need to understand another culture and know some of the language,” said Trickler.  

The drawbacks  

Despite these benefits, Trickler and students are aware that virtual study abroad does not give students the full experience of studying in another country.  

“I personally wouldn’t participate in it. I think the whole purpose of studying abroad isn’t necessarily the education you’re getting but the experience,” said sophomore financial services major Melody Roop.  

In addition to the lack of experience, some students are concerned about learning online from international professors when they feel that learning online from WSU professors can be challenging already.  

“I mean we already have trouble and a hard time doing it [remote learning] here. I struggle a lot with online learning and so definitely learning from an international professor [remotely] would still be very hard I think,” said sophomore early childhood education major Jordan See.  

Despite these worries, Trickler encourages students to utilize the virtual study abroad programs.  

“I think it’s a great thing to consider right now. It’s wonderful for yourself personally as well as professionally and there’s really no risk to it because you don’t have to leave your home,” said Trickler.  


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