Ashley spent a semester in Munich, Germany in the spring 2020. When COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic, her classes were moved online, but she stayed and made most of her experience!
Why did you choose your program and destination?
As an International Management major student, one of my semesters needed to be done abroad. I knew I wanted to go to Europe and travel around, and from looking into all the great options, I decided the culture and location of Munich, Germany would be a good fit for what I was looking for.
What was the most memorable experience of your time abroad?
The most memorable experiences were the opportunities I had outside of school. Between classes I would have several days off to explore, and stayed an extra month to backpack around. The most valuable and memorable experiences I had were my learnings from living in and interacting with other cultures.
Were there any challenges? How did you overcome or cope with them?
My experience was somewhat unique. About a week after arriving to Germany, WHO declared COVID-19 a pandemic. I was able to go to the school for orientation, but all in person classes were cancelled before the first day. I ended up doing all my schooling online while living abroad. The UofL and the host university were very accommodating and provided a lot of support! While most students returned to their home countries, I was able to stick around and eventually got to travel during the summer.
It was an interesting experience in that I didn't get the traditional study-abroad experience, but a lot of people helped make it a smooth transition.
Has this education abroad experience helped you personally, academically or professionally?
I am studying International Management. As much as theory is helpful, the most you can learn about the 'international' aspect is by living internationally. I was able to form a lot of connections, learned a lot about myself, and gained a clearer understanding of the direction I would like to go in for future careers and personally.
What was your experience like when you returned home?
I was sad to return, and think very fondly of my time in Europe. I will definitely be returning when I can. I have kept in contact with a lot of people over there! I've lived abroad a few times, and knew the adjustment period of fitting back into a life you've left behind, so it wasn't a huge adjustment. It was great to see everyone and to have the feeling of being settled and home. The hardest part this time around was the mandatory two-week quarantine after being busy and moving around a lot for the past several months.
If you could do it all over again, what would you do differently?
I'm really pleased with how everything played out and am not sure if I would have changed much. If anything, I felt that maybe I didn't need to plan trips and outings as much, and learned everything worked out. Being open minded and adaptable are the best tools to have when getting into these kinds of situations.
Would you recommend trying an education abroad program to other students?
Absolutely! Education abroad is very valuable, and the program offered at the University of Lethbridge made it very smooth and easy to go abroad and have those experiences. There is a lot of great information on the website, do a little homework, see what/where you like, and talk to the International Centre at the University! More information before you go is never a bad thing.