Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the world, my fear and anxiety, if I could pursue my exchange program in Sweden, got bigger and bigger day by day. Unfortunately, I could not experience face-to-face study abroad in Sweden. While many of my friends chose not to do online study abroad, I chose to pursue my study abroad even online. It is also a shame that this situation would last a year and might affect the year’s exchange program but here are the reasons why I still recommend you to take online courses at exchange university.
- The classes I could take in exchange university
First and foremost, many ask “why did you choose online courses although they aren’t the substitutes of real exchange experience?” or “is it really worth taking online courses?”.
My answer is “Yes, it was worth it because I could take the classes I can’t take at ICU”. My research theme before attending exchange university was quite vague and I was not sure about my specific academic interests at that time. However, I’ve been interested in the so-called “Nordic welfare model” and I was sure that it is quite hard to take these classes at ICU. So I chose to attend exchange university mainly because I could broaden my academic horizons and meet people who have in-depth knowledge about this domain. And I’m pretty satisfied with my academic outcome cause I could find my specific interest which can be my research theme for my senior dissertation afterward.
- Availability to the Library in Exchange University
Because I am basically a “One-Year-Regular” student at the University of Gothenburg, I could access on the university’s libraries which contain lots of books about my research theme. This is something I realized after I started the online exchange program but it was so hard to access books for Nordic welfare models or Swedish history of welfare states from ICU or even in other Japanese national libraries. Indeed, I often go to the National Diet library in order to read one of the course book. However, most of these books or articles are available in the university’s library and that is literally a game-changer for my research.
- You can make friends worldwide
Even though it is not like in the photo, I think I could make this type of atmosphere virtually. Most of my assignments are group work for which I need to work with classmates who are from Europe, the US, or Asia. One barrier which is often described as the drawback of online classes is the hardness of making friends, but I am sure this myth is false. Through group essays or group presentations, I could make friends I can count on when I have some difficulties in the online classes. Still, you indeed feel lonely sometimes but as long as you have friends in class that is something assuring, is it not?
Many people tell that their study abroad experience is a life-changing experience. Of course, the experience can diverge from people to people but an online exchange program still can broaden your academic horizons and it can be a life-changing experience as well, at least to me. So if one of these hits on your mind, it might become a lovely experience for you too!