COVID-19: Study Abroad Perspectives – Meet Bailey Poplin

Program and Location:

Université Catholique de Lille; Lille, France

Major/Minor:

Anthropology with History/French

What are some of your favorite memories from abroad?

I had a two week vacation where I got to go to Toulouse, France, Tangier and Chefchauoen, Morocco, and Seville, Spain! These were some of the last memories I got to make while abroad and it was through them that I got to expand my horizons on travelling and visiting other countries and their cultures.

What self-care strategies have you used to process the emotions around having your study abroad experience cut short or cancelled?

I’ve kept in touch with friends I made abroad as well as friends from home. It has helped to stay busy either with movies and shows, drawing, reading, painting, yoga, etc.

Are you continuing classes online? What are some of the challenges to distance learning and how are you overcoming them?

Yes. The main challenge is having to work with people who have never previously used online forms of teaching courses. It has been agonizing dealing with everyone who follows their own disarrayed schedules and who is further not communicating appropriately with their coworkers. On top of this, my work load has increased exponentially with no sense of compassion for having to flee a country and people who live in different time zones. This is especially true when you are demanded to work around their schedule and time zones (which change also!) in France.

How are you staying connected to the NC State and/or PackAbroad community during social distancing?

I am reaching out to other students who have returned home and speaking with my advisor about options available due to this unfortunate series of events.

Are there any resources you would like to share with other students in a similar situation?

Journaling or getting your feelings out in any way that you can is super helpful whether that be between yourself, others, or through services like the Counseling Center.

What have you learned about yourself during this time? How have you grown in this experience?

I have learned a lot of things about myself through this whole experience. The first is that I can handle so much more than I ever imagined. Whether it’s living with rats, attempting to communicate through a sometimes difficult language barrier, or working through new problems in living in a foreign country. I have grown into someone I am proud of as I have stood up for myself, worked (very creatively) through extreme problems, and truly pushed myself to overcome this great challenge of studying abroad. Most importantly, I have grown in the sense of acceptance. I had to accept that my study abroad experience was far different than anything that I expected and after working to make it better, I was pulled. So, it is from all of this that I learned more about myself, my strength and durability, and my ability to accept situations for what they are even when you work so so so hard to make them better.

Do you hope to take advantage of other abroad experiences in the future – ie studying abroad again, interning, volunteering, or working abroad, before or after graduation?

No. I do not have many other opportunities to go abroad as I approach my final year at NC State and I do not believe that I will be able to go abroad after graduation.

This post was originally published in Study Abroad.