Instead of studying abroad in Dublin this summer, Sophie Gainor had Ireland brought to her without ever having to leave her home.
"I would have preferred to go in person if I had the opportunity," said Gainor, a senior studying technical communications. "But because of COVID, I couldn’t.”
COVID-19 halted many in-person study abroad opportunities due to international travel restrictions, but ASU’s Study Abroad Office is bringing intercultural studies directly to students like Gainor, who connected with other international students about creative writing studies through Ireland's Griffith College all through a screen.
“It was very different, but I feel like it prepared me for … the remote working situation that will likely be a reality for anyone who’s getting into a writing industry right now," Gainor said.
ASU spokesperson Herminia Rincon said in an email that the University is working on "moving forward with a number of spring 2021 study abroad programs" depending on what each country allows for travelers.
“We have the Global Virtual Internships and that's the only virtual program we have going on right now," said Lindsay Lohr, management intern for the Study Abroad Office marketing team. "It's the first time we’re ever offering remote internships for students.”
The Global Virtual Internship program is being offered for the fall and spring semesters with a range of locations, such as Barcelona, Buenos Aires, Dublin, Florence, London, Shanghai and Sydney. Further details on finances and internship details about the program can be found at the Study Abroad Office’s brochure as well as the CAPA website.
“The Global Virtual Internship has placements for most majors and is designed to allow students to gain international work experience and develop their global professional skills," Rincon said in the email. "We are also in the process of developing a suite of virtual global programs designed to complement in-person offerings."
Lohr said virtual study abroad programs are "a great option if they still want to have the intercultural experience" while being safe, but she understands the switch to mostly online interactions has been difficult for many.
“The transition has just been kind of hard on our office because we want to see students traveling, we want to see students having an intercultural experience," Lohr said. "That’s why we are the study abroad office — that’s why we exist. And it’s kind of disheartening to see our students not being able to have that experience right now."
The program not only helps students who are immunocompromised and still want the experience of a study abroad program, but also students who normally wouldn't be able to travel and now have the opportunity to engage with intercultural studies without leaving their their home. Because of this, Lohr said the program has gained traction from a number of students interested in this new opportunity.
“It’s been so successful," Lohr said. "We were so surprised because we offered it originally just for over the summer thinking students are trying to complete summer internships, and we accepted it as one of our programs we offer now whenever students want to go on it, which is really exciting.”
Both Lohr and Gainor said they encourage more students to take a chance on the program, even though it may not be the study abroad experience they expected. Students can make an appointment through the Study Abroad Office for more information.
“I think, especially if you’re an online student, it would be an easy transition. You just need to keep in mind the workload,” Gainor said. “Remote studying abroad or remote internships would be very beneficial, considering the fact that we are still in the middle of a pandemic.”
Analisa has been a State Press reporter since her freshman year at ASU. She's a journalism major that has written pieces for several desks including Community & Culture, Opinion, and now Echo. Lisa is not involved in any professional program because she'd prefer to keep her sanity intact by the time graduation rolls around.