Originally, I had been planning for months to study abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina for the Fall 2020 semester. As soon as the pandemic hit I knew that plan had gone out the window. Of course, I was incredibly heartbroken being unable to study abroad, however, one of the main reasons behind my need to study abroad was to fulfill my foreign language requirements in order to graduate from college by the end of the year. With the help of API, we managed to figure out online classes that would still get me to be able to achieve my credits.

The classes I attended were three virtual classes, each four week-long classes that were for three hours every weekday. The classes were being taught by professors at a university in San Jose, Costa Rica. Each class had a different professor and the difficulty of the language increased in both complexities of the sentences and vocabulary.

The first class was probably the hardest out of all of them due to having to get used to speaking Spanish again and relearning many rules of the language as well as realizing that I had forgotten much of the vocabulary that I once knew. I was terrified and excited for this challenge though I struggled quite a bit. In this class, there were three other students studying with me. The students were from Ohio, Minnesota, and California. We grew close and became friends in the span of four weeks, helping each other and keeping one another accountable with our homework and attendance in class. Towards the end of the first class, my grandmother fell, hitting her head on the ground, and passed away. Both my professor as well as my classmates were incredibly comforting in being there while I mourned my grandmother. Even though I had to miss a couple of days in class it was very easy to make up the work.

In the second class, only one of my classmates and I continued on with learning Spanish. We worked well together in having to write scripts in Spanish and create presentations over Costa Rica landscape and other important aspects of the country as in the food and culture. On top of expanding our vocabulary, we dove into learning about the country that we would have been spending months in if the pandemic hadn’t blocked us from going. We joked with the professor about when we came to visit we would have to cook the food we ate in America for her in trade for getting some traditional Costa Rican foods. On the night before the last class, I had found myself in the emergency room and having to have an emergency appendectomy the next afternoon. I was so grateful that my classes were online at this point because I was able to stay with my sister in Murfreesboro while I healed the week after.

The last class definitely started off on a bumpy note as I was not able to attend the first few classes due to having to heal and being tired with a lot of pain. Regardless of my trials my professor continued to encourage me to push myself in my studies. We used music to practice speaking Spanish more fluently as well as getting a taste of how people speak the language. We worked toward expanding from simple sentences and attempted to recall our Spanish from memory instead of prewriting sentences.

Each professor continuously pushed me to do better even when I struggled and became frustrated with myself. By the end of each class, my professors invited myself and all my classmates to visit and stay with them whenever the travel restrictions are lifted. My one classmate and I had kept up with each other and are waiting for when we can travel to Costa Rica.

Allissa Dickey is majoring in Communication and participated in a Fall 2020 virtual study abroad to Costa Rica through API. Allissa had the following to say about (virtual) studying abroad, “I am so grateful the opportunity still worked out regardless of the pandemic. No matter what life threw at me, I was continuously encouraged to push further and do my best.”

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