UW Study Abroad Virtual Programs

UW Study Abroad has developed a variety of virtual programs that allow you to continue internationalizing your education and pursuing your academic, professional, and personal goals, without stepping onto an airplane.

What are UW Study Abroad virtual programs?

UW Study Abroad virtual programs are online learning experiences that allow you to explore global issues and connect with international instructors and local community members in an interactive virtual setting. Virtual programs can have multiple components, both synchronous and asynchronous, which take the form of interactive workshops hosted by organizations abroad, classes and question-and-answer sessions with international experts, virtual tours of cultural sites, live foreign language practice, or a virtual internship with an international company or organization, among others.

"My program successfully connected UW-Madison students to organizations across the globe without us leaving our own homes. We were able to have powerful conversations and build relationships with individuals, creating a circle of care, through virtual meetings because of the techniques we were taught through the program and the strength of the women we met.”

– Justine Hill, UW Circle of Care for Global Health and Human Rights

Many of the benefits of virtual programs mirror the benefits of traditional study abroad, such as:

  • Degree Progress: Earn meaningful credit toward your major and/or degree.
  • Professional Skills: Acquire global skills including critical thinking, analytical, and problem-solving skills, that are valued by potential employers.
  • International Expertise: Learn directly from experts around the world, gaining regional knowledge, topical expertise, and foreign language abilities.
  • Personal Development: Increase your independence, adaptability, and flexibility.
  • Intercultural Competence: Engage, reflect, and learn from different cultural perspectives and grow your cross-cultural awareness and empathy.
  • Relationships: Build relationships with instructors, classmates, international peers, and partners abroad.

Virtual programs offer many unique benefits as well, including:

  • Affordability: Save money on flights and living costs while participating in a high impact, intercultural experience.
  • Flexibility: Balance the demands of your schedule, finances, health, job, familial commitments, etc. with this flexible option for international learning. You may even be able to complete a virtual program while taking other UW courses!
  • Accessibility: Engage with and learn about the world through your computer from wherever you learn best.
  • Skills and Knowledge: Gain critical technical and time management skills needed to operate in a virtual environment.
  • Preparation for Travel: Use a virtual program to gain familiarity with a site and prepare yourself for a future career or travel opportunity.

Virtual programs may include any of the following activities:

  • Completing a virtual internship with a company or organization abroad
  • Participating in interactive workshops and activities provided or facilitated by host country organizations
  • Engaging in discussions of global issues with experts abroad
  • Taking virtual tours of organizations, cultural sites, and cities
  • Enhancing language skills through conversation with host country partners
  • Building relationships and collaborative skills through discussions and group projects

“It was valuable to me because I learned a lot about another culture that is not Russian but speaks Russian. It is amazing to see how the world can appear so different and far away but we are close to each other in our values and what we love to do. [My] Knowledge about Central Asia has definitely grown. I love history but it has always revolved around the American experience and everything, so it was great to learn about another part of the world that is not talked about as much here. Every Friday, the Kazakh students would give a presentation a topic regarding food, culture, sports, and etc. Also, I gained the ability to write almost 70 sentences in Russian about traveling a certain area in 50 minutes.” – Anthony Carreno, ACTR Advanced Russian Language and Area Studies Program (Russia and Kazakhstan)

“I had no other way to start taking Norwegian this year, and this program allowed me to get ahead in my studies instead of having to wait until next fall. I developed my ability to read, write, speak, and listen to Norwegian. I developed my ability to communicate and work with people from different cultures in pursuit of a common goal. I definitely feel that I have a basic understanding of the Norwegian language and that I could get by in Norway with my abilities. I am very pleased with the progress I made in six short weeks. The teacher was excellent and all of the other participants were very nice and dedicated. I was able to learn a lot of Norwegian in a short amount of time.” – Mavris Masterson, University of Oslo International Summer School (Norway)

“This experience was extremely valuable to me because I always wanted the opportunity to study abroad in college. My previous study abroad plans were cancelled due to COVID-19, so I am grateful that I was able to participate in a virtual experience… I feel as if I gained cultural knowledge and had the opportunity to interact with a diverse group of people. It was also a meaningful experience because I was able to speak with these people directly while learning about their stories – this was different from any opportunity I would have in a regular class.” – Cassie Barwick, UW Circle of Care for Global Health and Human Rights (Spain, Morocco, Nigeria

“All of the teaching staff involved clearly cared deeply and personally about the program and the impact it had on the students. The program also successfully connected UW Madison students to organizations across the globe without us leaving our own homes. We were able to have powerful conversations and build relationships with individuals, creating a circle of care, through virtual meetings because of the techniques we were taught through the program and the strength of the women we met.” – Justine Hill, UW Circle of Care for Global Health and Human Rights (Spain, Morocco, Nigeria)

“We’ve been receiving a bunch of virtual tours of historical sites and museums. Aachen was the capital city of Charlemagne’s empire, so the cathedral contains some cool artifacts. We’ve seen virtual tours of museums in the area, as well as a nearby research center. I like learning about history, so I’ve enjoyed this type of engagement, even though it’s hard to get the full feel for a place. So many of the tours I’ve seen make me excited to visit. Pending health circumstances, the program has invited us back next summer, so I’ll be able to see all these places in person.” – Zach Demko, RWTH Aachen UROP Intern (Germany)