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Despite study away cancellations, students still have opportunities for global education

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The upcoming semester may not feature strolling past the Eiffel Tower, exploring the Australian Outback or practicing new languages on new streets, but students still have ways to craft an unconventional and memorable educational journey.

Though the Global Education Office has canceled study away programs this semester and recently suspended them for the spring, there are still options for studying at other universities open to some students. While studying at Duke, students can find ways closer to home to engage with the world—or hold out hope that true study away will return soon. 

GEO is still offering study at Duke Kunshan University, so long as any travel remains within restrictions imposed by the University and government. One unique opportunity for students this year is GEO’s Study Away at Home programs, which allow international students to study at Duke-approved universities in their home countries or countries of residence.

But the GEO isn’t the only place students can find enriching travel and cultural experiences for the upcoming semester. 

For students looking to travel a little closer to home, the Duke University Marine Lab is one option. Just a three-hour drive from the main campus, the Marine Lab is offering several chemistry, biology and environmental courses this semester through in-person, hybrid and online formats. 

Another resource for cultural competency experiences is the International House, which offers many opportunities for engagement in cultural conversations between domestic and international students through their English Conversation Club, Duke Language Partners, International Friends program and the Global Cafe. Ling Jin, international house student development coordinator, said that these programs are perfect for students looking to prepare for future study abroad endeavors. 

Junior Dev Seth, however, is holding out hope that he’ll be able to study abroad in the true sense. 

The computer science and philosophy double major from India, who was accepted to a study away program at Oxford this year to study mathematics and philosophy, wrote in a message to The Chronicle he saw his hopes for a global college experience slipping away when study abroad was canceled this fall

When he learned that private sessions with Oxford professors would be replaced with Duke’s remote asynchronous classes, which is the only option available for many international students due to the time difference, he wrote that he knew he had to change paths.

With the help of his GEO advisor, Seth was able to postpone his study abroad by a semester with plans to resume his education this spring and take a leave of absence for the fall. 

Just a few months later, Seth’s plans were turned upside down with the cancelation of spring study away. After working with Oxford to postpone his study away once again, he wrote that he is optimistic about what the future holds.

Though Seth’s Duke experience has been anything but conventional, he has found many positives in this unusual year. As for his leave of absence after sophomore year, Seth wrote that he would “10 out of 10” recommend this path for students looking to reflect on the first half of their undergraduate journeys and prepare to take full advantage of the next two years. 

Seth attributes the positives of the past semester to his GEO advisor, Carolyn Covalt.

Amanda Kelso, executive director of GEO and assistant vice provost for undergraduate education, had advice for students looking for support during these uncertain times, writing in an email to The Chronicle that they should schedule an advising appointment with one of the many dedicated GEO advisors and continue monitoring the GEO website and social media for updates on programming. 

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