A Virtual Abroad Experience

Media by Ruby Chen.

Under the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, many schools have implemented online teaching. Since Greenville University has not been impacted as severely as other schools, they have resumed in-person courses, and the campus is open. As long as students wear masks, classroom instruction looks very similar to how it was before the pandemic. However, for some international students, this school year looks very different. In some countries, students were not allowed to return to the United States due to the pandemic, so these international students attend classes online while other students are in the classroom.

Media by Zoom.

In the early days of the pandemic, most American schools’ courses were online classes through Zoom. Zoom’s online classroom is a bit like a group video chat. In the classroom, professors will first open the zoom meeting to let students join in virtually. To ensure that online students can listen to the class’s content well, professors often patiently repeat essential parts to them. The professors at Greenville University are very kind, and they do their best to make sure that their virtual education is quality. Especially since most students stayed home after Thanksgiving break, the Zoom platform provides a lot of help to the virtual students and educators alike.

In the increasingly tense and unpredictable atmosphere of the pandemic, some students chose to participate in the online school in order to minimize exposure so that they can return home. Lei Wu, an international student at Greenville, reflected on his experience of studying abroad during the pandemic, and he stated, “During the outbreak, I chose to stay at Greenville University to continue my studies. Because of policy issues, I am afraid that if I decide to return home, I will not return. But I think we should try not to contact other people in this period. I hope we can recover as soon as possible.”

While many international students chose to virtually participate in this semester, some were not allowed to return to the United States this school year. One international student, Chen Wang, explained his experience by saying, “During the summer vacation, I chose to go back to China, which means that I will not be able to return to campus because of the epidemic, so I participated in the online classroom this semester.”

Fortunately, the online classroom mimics the actual classroom, so virtual students are still receiving a quality educational experience. Each class session, the teacher opens launches a Zoom meeting for the online students so that they can listen to the lecture, see the visuals, and participate in class discussions along with the in-person students.

Media by NPR.

In general, the in-person instruction of Greenville University has not significantly changed, but the accessibility of virtual instruction has proven itself to be essential. The development of online teaching has helped keep these virtual students in the Greenville community. In addition to adapting to the time difference factor, online teaching allows students, particularly international students, to eat their hometown food and conduct live teaching from the comfort and safety of their own homes. Whether they are attending school on campus or from China, the faculty and administration at Greenville University are doing their best to provide a quality education, even in the midst of a global crisis.

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