COVID-19: Study Abroad Perspectives – Meet Rani Madhiwala

Progam and Location:

Universidad Adolfo Ibanez; Viña del Mar, Chile

Major/Minor:

Business Admin & International Studies. In Honors Business Analytics

If you were already in your host country when you were recalled home, what are some of your favorite memories from abroad?

I enjoyed getting to meet so many amazing and genuine people, seeing a whole different perspective of the world, starting to learn Spanish, exploring, experiencing a beautiful culture, allowing myself to grow in my independence and confidence, taking a mental break from my real life and so so much more.

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

I honestly have had a hard time with this. I have been trying to look into post-grad programse and think in advance for future travel in Latin America because I can no longer go in my undergrad due to NC State guidelines of having 30/45 of your last credits on campus. I have tried to force myself to get over it, but its harder not being able to see friends or other people to help you forget it. I try to keep myself busy but its an ongoing cycle of being sad and upset. I have created a video to help me cope and to help remind me of the good memories, rather than the bad and try to remind myself of all that I learned and that I am safe.

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

Yes they are. It’s really hard because every class is on Zoom, so I spend 15 or more hours on Zoom in class every week. It gets very difficult to be in front of a computer and listen to a teacher talk for that many hours in a week. I try to take notes and ask questions, but staying attentive is really hard because most of my classes were field trip and activity based and now they have moved them into Powerpoints, which are hard to listen to every day. It’s hard to learn about a culture when you are not in that atmosphere anymore, so the students and the professors are all working together with each other.

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

I have a group chat with my abroad friends and my school friends so I try to text and call them every so often. I try to send positive messages to my friends as well because everyone is upset, hurting, and sad about this situation and we have to help one another. Keeping in touch with my friends is really important to me.

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

I was thinking to maybe create a group chat on Whatsapp and post it on LinkedIn/share through our Study Abroad Office for any student that had to deal with this experience and help spread positivity to each other. I want to do this because I noticed that it is hard for people who didn’t go through the same experience to fully understand.

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

I learned that I love to learn, experience, and learn from life examples rather than the pencil pen approach. I discovered my love for a cultural experience and my love for the latin language and culture. I learned how passionate and motivated I can be and how I can put my mind to anything. I believe in myself more, and I am not giving up my dream of living in Latin America.

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?

I would love to. I am asking around for all possible opportunities to help me during this time.

This post was originally published in Study Abroad.