The past year has looked nothing as it has before. Ever since March 2020, we have been adjusting to a new lifestyle. The global pandemic has impacted the way people interact, learn, and communicate. Through these times, Appalachian State University has adapted to a new way of learning and engaging with the world. For instance, the WCOB International Programs have changed their study abroad experiences to still provide students with global opportunities. During abroad experiences, some students were sent back to the United States from their travels due to unsafe travel conditions. Providing these experiences can be difficult without the ability to travel, but these opportunities are still available in a new form of virtual learning. Regardless of these adaptations to global affairs due to COVID 19, it is still essential to keep these opportunities to teach students about different cultures and expand their knowledge. One of the Walker College of Business recent 2021 graduates, Molly Campillo, double majoring in International Business and Global Studies, shared her international experiences and her perception of the importance of studying globally.
Campillo has had many international opportunities during her time here at Appalachian State University. In 2018 she traveled to the Dominican Republic with ASE and attended a Faculty-Led study abroad trip to Spain. In 2019 Campillo had the opportunity to be a Fudan International Student for the summer and a Tokyo University student during the fall. In 2020 she earned an internship in Ireland for the spring semester and one in London for the summer. Although some of these in-person experiences did end up being cut short, she still was able to engage in a remote virtual setting. Campillo shared her perspective throughout her traveling experiences during an interview conducted through the WCOB International Programs. "It gave me a full way of seeing my own culture and its connection with the rest of the world. It is easy to live in a bubble, but the world is growing more and more connected every day. I learned more about myself and the US while abroad, not just by seeing similarities and differences from my own eyes but so many other points of view," Campillo said. She also provided her most rewarding aspect of the experience, and to no surprise, it had to do with the connections she made with others. Campillo shared, "The most rewarding part of studying abroad for me was the friendships I was able to build. When you are studying abroad, you all share a common interest in the place you are traveling to, making it easy to bond with people." Learning from others in a new and different culture than your own is so rewarding and meaningful. There is no better way to learn something than from someone experiencing it firsthand. Although experiences might not be in person in the near future, we can still build these connections through virtual learning and online communications.
Since it is unpredictable when traveling to other countries will ever be how it was previously to the pandemic, it is still essential to continue growing, learning, and connecting with different cultures. Appalachian State University is continuing to provide personal global opportunities for students. Even if there are not many plans for physical international travels right now, there are still some ways students can be a part of global experiences. While international opportunities remain an uncertain reality, we asked Campillo what advice she would give to students who wish to study abroad but find it challenging due to COVID 19. "I would advise them to do what they can to connect themselves with international students and professors, find online international communities, and make plans for future travels," Campillo emphasized. It is crucial to continue to learn about other countries and to prepare for when we do have the opportunity to travel again.
Despite the challenges due to the pandemic, Campillo's experiences have changed her perspective, and she will always cherish and continue to learn from them. "My experiences studying and interning abroad were so important because I learned an incredible amount about the world while connecting with incredible people who were just as passionate about seeing the world as I am. Studying abroad requires an open mind and a curious spirit, and so going into these programs, you are so ready to learn and experience new things while having fun and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone," Campillo said. These meaningful opportunities should be something students should want to engage and experience for themselves; it will give them the chance to gain rewarding experiences from studying abroad, whether or not it's in person or virtual. The importance of International connections will continue to grow, especially after the pandemic. We can learn vast things from countries worldwide, including how countries adapted their lifestyles to the global pandemic. Therefore, the experiences are valuable for global studies.
This story was written based on Molly Campillo's interview with WCOB International Programs. To read the full interview, click here.
Article By: Maria Pericozzi, MBA 2021