By Abby Weingarten
What is a New College student to do about studying abroad or off campus during a time of pandemic-induced travel restrictions? Get creative, undoubtedly.
Whether that means picking another university within the United States to spend a semester, or choosing a virtual internship/study abroad program, students will have a multitude of options this fall (and the alternatives continue to grow).
“Students can still gain international experience and develop intercultural competencies by taking an online course (taught from a location abroad) or completing a virtual internship with organizations and businesses around the world,” said Florence Zamsky, Ph.D., the assistant director of off-campus study/study abroad programs, and the National Student Exchange (NSE) and EcoLeague coordinator for New College. “And, of course, NSE and EcoLeague still have some excellent programs available.”
In fact, two Novo Collegians are already planning to study off campus this fall with NSE and EcoLeague—domestic exchange programs that will help further their individually diverse research.
Macie Robison, a third-year political science/environmental studies student, will travel to the University of Alaska Southeast (UAS-Juneau) with NSE. And Lily Tanner, an environmental studies/theatre, dance and performance studies thesis student, will go to Alaska Pacific University (APU) with EcoLeague.
“These programs provide New College students with a wonderful opportunity to experience studying in a different setting, both academically and geographically, and to access additional courses not offered at New College (i.e. broaden the scope of courses for their Areas of Concentration),” Zamsky said. “New College students have studied with NSE in many different places, from Georgia to Massachusetts to Alaska to California and everywhere in-between.”
New College became a member of the NSE in 2000 and, since then, there have been 279 outgoing students and 130 incoming students in the program. New College joined EcoLeague in the spring of 2018, and Tanner will be the first student to participate.
“UAS-Juneau interested me primarily for its amazing outdoor opportunities (I am an avid hiker and a member of New College’s Outdoor Adventure, LLC),” Robinson said. “The university is close to some absolutely stunning mountains, glaciers and the ocean, and I hope to take advantage of that—whether it’s through hiking, camping, kayaking or learning to climb or ski. I’m also hoping to incorporate these outdoor elements into the environmental studies aspect of my degree.”
Like Robinson, Tanner can’t wait to experience Alaska.
“I am most excited about APU’s block session. It functions similarly to New College’s Independent Study Project (ISP) but, rather than work on a project for a month at the beginning of the semester, you take one intensive class for the month,” Tanner said. “I get to take a class on the natural history of Alaska, which will be amazing. The neatest part about the block class is that I will spend the last 10 days hiking and camping with my class as the lab portion of the course.”
Also, as part of the overall campus exchange initiative, three NSE students from Northwestern State University of Louisiana will be studying at New College this fall, Zamsky said.
And while global travel has been a non-option for many students during the COVID-19 pandemic, that has not stopped Novo Collegians like thesis-student Ky Miller from being inventive. The anthropology and environmental studies student turned a study abroad experience into a virtual one last spring. She worked remotely on an ethnographic research project about Costa Rica to prepare for a time when she is able to physically travel there.
Another possibility for travel-free learning is the University Studies Abroad Consortium (USAC) Global Perspectivesprogram, which includes online courses in diversity/multiculturalism and international affairs. USAC also offers virtual internships in Brazil, China, the Czech Republic, Costa Rica, France, Ghana, India, Italy, Spain, Thailand and Uruguay. Applications are still open.
The School for International Training (SIT) provides online courses and virtual internships based in Bolivia, Cameroon, Chile, Ecuador, India, Jordan, Kenya, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Panama, Serbia, Kosovo, South Africa and Vietnam. Applications are due by August 24.
Not only do these programs give students the flexibility to learn wherever they are, but the cost is also significantly cheaper than the typical experience (which encompasses airfare, room and board, and transportation expenses in addition to tuition fees).
“One aspect of the virtual option that’s different is accessibility and affordability, because students don’t have to worry about traveling or taking time off from work to participate,” Zamsky said. “And studying abroad, if you’re traveling, can be a very expensive project that is not feasible for many students. This virtual format can give a chance to students who wouldn’t otherwise have an opportunity.”
There are also numerous benefits to taking courses taught by professors in foreign countries, and remotely learning alongside students with different cultural backgrounds, Zamsky said.
“New College students will definitely gain adaptability and flexibility by learning this way; it will help them stay open-minded and intellectually curious,” Zamsky said. “Having been used to a single point of view and by experiencing another culture for a semester, students will come to realize things they may have taken for granted at home. It is an eye-opening experience, even in a virtual setting.”
Abby Weingarten is the editor/writer in the Office of Communications & Marketing.