With the opening of summer session and study abroad registration for the upcoming year, UC Berkeley students are preparing themselves for an uncertain future.
Since last spring, campus has conducted each semester virtually, and the 2021 summer session will be no different. With the upcoming session scheduled for its second year of remote instruction, students expressed a variety of opinions related to the decision.
While campus sophomore Ruby Sartain-Miller was not surprised that the upcoming session will be remote, she noted her disappointment.
“I took two classes last summer, with a total of seven units. It was so much more exhausting than a normal semester,” Sartain-Miller said in an email. “I consistently had severe eye strain at the end of the day after 6+ hours on zoom.”
Her main concern, Sartain-Miller added, is the possibility of the 2021 fall semester being conducted remotely as well, which would cause more than half of her undergraduate career to take place via Zoom.
As many hope to go back to pre-pandemic conditions, some see remote instruction as an opportunity to branch out and use the additional time to engage in other activities outside of school.
“Personally I’m glad that summer sessions are staying online because it allows me to work an internship that might be in person while also taking classes that help me progress on my minor,” said campus sophomore Andrew Liu in an email.
Despite the unpredictable circumstances surrounding COVID-19, Berkeley Study Abroad encourages students who wish to have the option of studying abroad to consider applying, according to the Berkeley Study Abroad website, preselected programs are expected to continue.
Berkeley Global Internships and Berkeley Summer Abroad programs are scheduled to be offered through an online platform.
According to UC Education Abroad Program, or UCEAP, spokesperson Myla Edmond, UCEAP has explored offering the option of providing more virtual programs, such as its virtual international internship program.
Edmond noted that by offering these programs, students are able to experience international education in a safe setting.
“We are also working with our international partners to determine if there are programs that can be offered online or offered as a hybrid option of both in-person and online instruction,” Edmond said in an email.
UCEAP is currently accepting applications for the upcoming academic year, and most programs are scheduled to proceed as normal, according to the Berkeley Study Abroad website.
The website added that independent study abroad programs are also being offered upon review of its respective university or host for those interested in pursuing a study abroad program that is unaffiliated with the UC system.
However, some students questioned the value of participating in a virtual study abroad program.
According to campus sophomore Lewana Su, a virtual platform would not be able to replicate an authentic experience of engaging with a culture, visiting local spots and interacting with new people.
“I don’t think moving study abroad to a virtual platform is worth it and I wouldn’t participate if next year’s programs became virtual,” Su said in an email. “The main reason why I want to study abroad is to experience and learn about a different lifestyle/culture, and to learn a bit of foreign language from living internationally.”