NKU’s first Virtual Study Abroad Week started Monday and provided information about abroad education programs. The event goes until Friday, Sep. 18, and consists mainly of Zoom sessions hosted by the Office of Education Abroad and affiliates.
Students interested in studying abroad in Japan, Korea, Germany and other countries will have the chance to speak with staff members, vendors and those with study abroad experience.
In previous years, the Study Abroad Fair was held on-campus. This year, the one-day event has been extended into a week to comply with COVID-19 restrictions.
Preparations started in the summer with help from IT and other Kentucky educational institutions, according to Michelle Melish, assistant director of the Office of Education Abroad. According to Melish, the global pandemic has made it a testing time for the office.
“At the beginning, in March, it was really challenging,” Melish said. “We had to bring a number of students home. We had to help students who are here for the semester get back home.”
Melish said that trying to plan when things are so uncertain is difficult. Nonetheless, the Virtual Study Abroad Week has been going well, according to the Office of Education Abroad.
Niranjana Warrier, one of the coordinators, said that the number of students who aim to study abroad in the future is surprising. Anne Perry, another coordinator, said that the virtual format not only helps students who can only attend one session but also allows them to fit the event into their class schedules.
“It’s important for us to make students aware of the importance of global education, of the fact that we’re part of a larger world,” Melish said. “Looking for ways to engage with the world and what’s going on outside of their own country. It’s not just about learning about studying abroad, it’s learning about the world as well.”
This sentiment is shared by Elise Stromberg, a cybersecurity major and Japanese minor. She attended the scholarships and financial aid session on Tuesday.
“Getting to view another culture would be very nice,” Stromberg said. “It would help me to broaden my horizon. I don’t want to just stay in the U.S. I want to go out of the country to see how other people live.”
Stromberg said that since her major is a very diverse field, it is important to get to know a lot of different people.
Stromberg, who is planning to study abroad in Japan, said that this year’s event is very different compared to the in-person fair she attended last year.
“It is strange having it be over Zoom because it’s the first year that it’s all online. Instead of going up to a physical stand, you’re attending an online Zoom session,” Stromberg said.
Despite the initial sense of unfamiliarity, Stromberg said she enjoyed the session. She particularly liked the focus on financial aid, which is an important aspect of studying abroad.
“I definitely think travel will be affected,” Stromberg said in regards to abroad education in the future. “In terms of sanitation rules and health policies, I’m sure that travel will be affected by that. But even if the rules change, I would love to study abroad still.”
Stromberg said she hoped that the pandemic would be over by next year so everyone could travel again.
“Going outside your country to a place completely different is an experience I think everyone should have,” Stromberg added. “If people travel more often, there will be more understanding between different cultures and traditions, and I’m a huge advocate of that.”
Upcoming Study Abroad Week events:
Thursday, Sep. 17:
1:00 PM: NKU College of Business
4:00 PM: Cooperative Center for Study Abroad
5:00 PM: Kentucky Institute for International Studies
For more information, contact the Office of Education Abroad at email@example.com.