Education Abroad in a Time of COVID

Tracey Betts Sarefield in ItalyThe whole field of study abroad has been shaken to the core during the COVID-19 pandemic, with all of the related security measures stopping international travel for educational, business and recreational purposes.  Allow me to explain how virtual courses can increase your access to programming from all over the world and help you to continue to prepare for a position in the modern global and increasingly digital workforce.

For community members who travel abroad for any reason, this has been a difficult time to navigate the feelings and emotions of lost opportunities to continue our work to bridge the cultural divide and learn about the world around us or just check a country off our bucket list. To counter those feelings, and switch my focus to creating new opportunities I took a summer virtual history course at Fitchburg State titled “Early Modern Travel Narratives” and spent the summer immersed in 16th-century stories of British merchants who traveled to Istanbul to develop trade routes with the Sultan. The descriptions of life on a silk road caravan through the middle east in the 16th century certainly took my mind off of the quarantine and the daydreaming was a welcome distraction.  I’ve been to Istanbul several times and having the chance to delve into the history really made me appreciate it so much more.

Recently, I was accepted into a Turkish Language program offered by the Yunus Emre Institute in Washington DC. This semester, I will be studying Turkish language and culture in a virtual course two nights a week. The ability to work alongside people from all over the world while we learn about Turkish culture is another new opportunity where I can develop important professional skills like intercultural communication, language, and cultural acquisition, increase my knowledge of the world and broaden my professional network. Did I mention this course was free?

We are so excited to have technology that we can use to increase global access for the Mount Wachusett Community while we all navigate the COVID-19 pandemic in a safe and secure manner. Visit our study abroad web page for more information on how we can help you become a member of our global society and take advantage of some affordable academic and career development opportunities that are available, face to face or virtual.