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Studying Abroad During the Pandemic


DePaul Student Tiffany in Spain
This past year was not a typical year for students wishing to study abroad. Many programs were canceled due to the pandemic, but a few students were still able to make their Study Abroad dreams come true. Pre-pandemic, in Fall 2019, 178 students traveled to study abroad, yet in Fall 2020, there were only five students who were able to do so. Tiffany Okoye, a student in the College of Law was one of those five students, and she spent a full academic year (October 2020-August 2021) studying European and International Business law in Madrid, Spain. ​

“I have always had an interest in learning about International Business, as someday I would love to practice law abroad, so it was the perfect opportunity for me,” Tiffany shared. While in Spain, she lived in Madrid and “got to experience quite a few different neighborhoods, but my favorites were Salamanca and Centro for sure.” She shared that living and studying in Spain was a lot of fun.  The pandemic didn’t disrupt her adventures too greatly. She traveled around the country and immersed herself in the culture as much as she could. She enjoyed exploring the city, meeting new people and eating some delicious home-cooked meals.

Being in a new country during a pandemic may sound daunting, but it didn’t deter Tiffany from enjoying her time there. In fact, she shared that the main challenges of her time in Madrid were not related to traveling during a pandemic. Businesses were generally open, though some had early closures, and wearing masks was enforced. However, she was able to attend classes in person. The primary challenges were her coursework and the difficulties of learning a new language while adjusting to a new environment. 

Part of this positive experience could be attributed to Tiffany’s optimistic and adaptable attitude; she stepped out of her comfort zone and made lifelong friends. She shared, “I think it is very important to go into these situations with the most open mind. A lot of times, we as people like to make comparisons to the place where we are from and the country we are currently visiting. If you have less expectations, you have less disappointments! Fully immerse yourself into the country, accept it for what it is, and enjoy the ride! A lot of times there might be a language barrier or difficulty in translation. Just have fun and enjoy the opportunity to experience a life outside of what you are accustomed to--which to me is what this whole life journey is all about.”