COVID-19: Study Abroad Perspectives – Meet Emma Coggins

Program and Location:

International Business Dual Degree Program – NEOMA Business School; Reims, France

Major/Minor:

Business Administration, Concentration in Finance, Minor in French

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

The absolute best part of my study abroad experience thus far was my “colocation,” French for roommate/shared flat. I lived in a cozy apartment with 4 French girls — 2 who were studying Medicine and 2 who were studying Art. We were all such different people, but formed such a loving family. We also had a cat, Mousse. My roommates were, and still are, my sisters. I got to visit some of their families and travel around France with them. They taught me so much about the French culture and really helped to improve my language skills. I was able to simultaneously help them with their English skills. Part of the French culture is always sharing meals together, and as simple as that is, I will never forget the feeling of sharing breakfast, lunch, or dinner together.

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

In order to take care of myself state-side, I have maintained contact with my friends from abroad. We talk in group chats, schedule zoom calls, and keep each other up to date with how we are doing. I am also working to up-keep my French skills by reading French books and doing some online learning so that I don’t forget anything!

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

My classes are now online through Zoom, at the regularly schedule French time. This has been quite a challenge as I’m 6 hours behind. I have to get up for classes a few days a week at 3am and contribute to group work or participate in lectures for hours. A lot of my European based friends are like “I can’t believe you’re getting up for classes!” but by going to classes and doing group work, I’m maintaining some sense of normalcy, even if the hours are beyond normal. Afternoon naps and lots of caffeine are my only coping skills so far!

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

I am planning to participate in the Monday PackAbroad online group counseling sessions with other students who have been abroad and sent home too soon. I am also checking out to see what other virtual activities are going on by reading my Women’s Center emails and re-connecting with some clubs, like Women in Business, that I missed while abroad.

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

Right now, Rosetta Stone and Babbel are offering 3 months free of learning for students, so you can continue learning your language or pick up a new one to give you something to do! Yale is also offering their “Wellness of Being” course for free on Coursera. My semester ends in April, and assuming we still won’t be able to do much in May, I’m hoping these classes will keep me busy and my mind active.

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

I am learning more every day about adaptability and the importance of maintaining communication. It’s also important to let yourself have bad days. Some days I’m not productive, I’m anxious, or stressed. Others, I feel positive and grateful. Feel your emotions freely.

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?

If all goes well, I will be returning to France in the fall to finish my senior year in the dual degree business program.

This post was originally published in Study Abroad.