Since the start of the COVID-19 health crisis, discussions of short and long-term impacts on education have echoed through the hallowed walls of institutions worldwide.
Specifically for study abroad, there was a strong belief by some “experts” (at this point, does that term mean anything?) that a shift to virtual/online study abroad options might become long-term based on the fact that these programs are cheaper, require minimal legwork on behalf of the student and still provide a well-rounded cultural experience.
To this point, it should also be considered that Americans studying abroad is a completely different thing than students in the rest of the world who are less averse to foreign travel from a young age (just for richer context).
That theory plummeted like a sinking ship in January 2021 as many schools relaunched in-person programs, which accounted for the virus while still providing a similar experience to what would have been in place before the pandemic.
People signing up for a study abroad program who want to travel abroad? Shocking.
Despite the fantasyland that those who strongly champion virtual study abroad, there is still an ongoing question about the true worth of a semester away experience.
It was one that I hear at least once a week in my one-to-one study abroad advising sessions and remains popular fodder for mainstream media. Here are the main reasons study abroad will continue after the pandemic subsides and WHY you should consider beginning to explore programs:
1. Redeveloping and Building Interpersonal Skills
There’s no doubt that the pandemic has taken its toll on human connection in many ways. Overall, the focus on the suffering has been placed on the elderly and the youngest among us, however, I would argue that college-level students have also had an expense on their mental and emotional existence since it began.
Emerging into a “new normal”, study abroad will provide a fantastic way to work on reshaping your interpersonal skills because it offers a balance of challenges and the opportunity to learn. Between communicating, building relationships, and potentially even having some conflict, it truly is a wonderful way to step back out into a thriving community where most people have a shared common goal and are all going through a similar re-acclimation experience. It’s a great idea from my perspective.