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Studying Abroad Takes New Form Amid Pandemic Restrictions

DENVER (CBS4) - At a time when many universities around the country are cancelling their study abroad programs due to the pandemic and travel restrictions, some others are working to offer virtual study abroad opportunities for students.

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While it may not be the same experience as physically traveling overseas, program organizers at CU Denver say going abroad online does have some perks, and even after the pandemic is over, some virtual abroad opportunities will likely remain.

"We really think that it's here to stay for those students that can't travel overseas, but they understand the value and importance of growing their global lens," said Catherine Ebert-Gray, Director of Global Education at CU Denver. "We're still expecting the students to come and use their problem-solving skills, their reflection skills, their creativity, innovation, all of those skills are still in play when you're studying virtually as well."

In May, Max Morgan, a graduate student at CU Denver, participated in a virtual abroad course based in Denmark. He says the program opened new doors.

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"So we learned about a few companies in Denmark, and I was sitting there as a student thinking, 'I would love to work for one of these companies but what's in my backyard?' And lo and behold, some of these Danish entities are right here in Colorado," Morgan said. "I'm going to apply for a job right here in Denver for a company that aligns with my vision."

CU Denver is now offering virtual abroad programs in South America, Europe, India, and Jordan. Some programs are offered as hybrid programs, where students will first learn about the country, and then can travel to the country at a later date.

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"I think we're in this for the long term, I think we're going to see increasing interest in virtual opportunities. For our students who can't travel, this is a wonderful way for them to achieve their international credit," Ebert-Gray said. "We have many posted for this summer, a few for the fall, and I think we'll continue to extend that and learn from it as we go along."

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