Like many students at UD, I hoped to spend a semester abroad this year. That’s right — I was supposed to be eating croissants in Paris, but instead I’m eating bagels at my apartment in Newark.
While there are much worse things going on in the world right now, I think it’s fair to say that a lot of students are bummed to have spent part of the alleged best years of their lives looking at computers all day. As a way to deal with my disappointment and perhaps comfort some of you, I have decided to find alternatives to many of the study abroad programs UD would have offered this spring.
Do I believe that any of these alternatives truly compare to the real thing? Absolutely not. But, these days, I think it’s best to work with what we’ve got.
Were you perhaps planning to walk the same roads that many of history’s best philosophers walked in Athens? Sadly, this option is currently off the table. However, if you want to step away from your screen and walk around campus, you can do so with the knowledge that you are walking across the same paths that President Joe Biden has.
Or perhaps you hoped to visit the Land Down Under. One of the many things you would have likely wanted to do is take a picture at the Sydney Opera House. In that case, why not sit in front of it every day. Change your Zoom background to a picture of it and problem solved.
Another exciting thing you could have done this semester is hike the mountains around Cape Town. For a much less extreme alternative, try going for a stroll in White Clay Creek State Park. The views may not be the same, but I am willing to bet your legs will not be as tired.
While tanning on the beaches of the Cayman Islands or the Bahamas is no longer attainable, many of Delaware’s best beaches are only a little over an hour away. As for the cold and general lack of sun, I cannot help you there.
Though it would have been fun to visit Legoland in Denmark, nothing is stopping you from ordering some Legos to build in your room. If you get one of the Architecture sets, you can build a city you would like to visit instead of actually going!
It certainly would have been cool to visit Hong Kong Disneyland, but do you know what costs less and is easy to do any day of the week? Watching a Disney movie.
Were you looking to try the famous cuisine at a Hawker Centre in Singapore? Instead try watching “Crazy Rich Asians” and live vicariously as you watch the characters galavant through this amazing city. Bonus points for getting takeout to eat while you watch — it is not nearly the same but will work in a pinch.
Learning Spanish is an extremely valuable skill, and it certainly would have been more fun to do in Spain or even Ecuador. Nevertheless, since we are stuck in one place with little to do, it is still a great time to learn Spanish, or any new language for that matter. Why not get ready for the days when we can travel again?
With all there is to do in South Korea, one exciting option is finding world-renowned skincare and cosmetic products in Korean beauty shops. The good news is, many of the products you could have found there are available in the States too. Plus, a sheet mask is a great addition to any Netflix binge.
Ireland would have been a particularly exciting place to go during the Spring semester with St. Patrick’s Day being in March. Yet nothing is stopping you from enjoying a Guinness to celebrate the day (unless of course you’re not of age). In that case, maybe just stand in the rain — there’s nothing more Irish than that.
Everyone dreams of the day they can take a boujee picture in front of the Eiffel Tower with a baguette and bottle of wine in hand. You can still try this, just without the Eiffel Tower. Why not take a baguette and wine to a local cell phone tower and glamorously pose in front of it?
One famous site to see in Prague is the famous Astronomical Clock. While it would be marvelous to see a feat of medieval engineering, you can still explore space and time right on campus. You can explore the solar system on UD’s own Planet Walk, with markers representing everything from the Sun to Pluto.
The thought of going to Italy is the stuff dreams are made of. While this is largely due to the beautiful landscape and romantic cities, a big part is also the food. Try to find some fine Italian cuisine right where you are instead! And, when you find the best Italian food Newark has to offer, please let me know.
While I do not argue that all of these alternatives contend with the real thing or even compare, they are something. In my opinion, any activity that will get me away from my computer for a while is worth a shot.
As we begin yet another semester online, feeling pretty much miserable is absolutely valid. Thinking about all of the opportunities that we have lost because of this pandemic only makes it worse. So, instead, let’s just try to make the best of the situation at hand.