York International hosted several events throughout October, displaying how their study and work abroad programs have been adapted in the face of COVID-19 travel restrictions. For the first time ever, York will be offering remote global internships in Winter 2021. Several international universities have also made remote study options available for York students.
“These are offered through our direct partner organizations, and they may or may not include a program fee — most of them do not,” said International Internships Assistant Natasha Pursun, at a Global Internships Q&A session. “The selection process is handled by both York International and the organization.”
These remote internships are three months long, and interested students can apply directly to York International. Short-term remote internships are also available and will be offered year-round through external providers.
Current remote opportunities include fields like accounting, marketing, non-governmental organization (NGO) management, and conservation, in countries such as China, England, France, Japan, Portugal, and Peru.
While these internships no longer provide students with a physical international work experience, they still retain the financial benefits. Students are eligible for a funding of up to $3,000 for these opportunities.
Depending on the travel situation, there may still be some international opportunities available in summer 2021. However, they will not be hosted through direct partners like the remote opportunities.
“These are organizations we’ve partnered with through faculty connections here at York,” said Pursun. “We reached out to faculty members here at the university and we asked them for any connections they had in the field, either working with other organizations or working with other universities.”
“Obviously it was upsetting, having the trip cut off and flying home, but at the same time the situation was getting really scary in Europe, and Canada had it better under control in that sense.”
In terms of educational opportunities, many international universities have pivoted to virtual learning as well. While summer 2021 opportunities have yet to be posted, fall/winter virtual opportunities currently listed include the European studies program at the Ludwig-Maximilian University of Munich, and the Winter Abroad program at South Korea’s Yonsei University.
Fourth-year Schulich iBBA student Meena Shanmuganathan can speak to the benefits of her own exchange term this year: “I loved my exchange experience, it was a fantastic time. I really got to discover independence in a new country, in basically learning the language and everything I had to do there. I did get to travel alongside the South of France, I went to Aix-en-Provence on exchange.”
However, Shanmuganathan’s experience was cut off early due to the onset of COVID-19. The time of her return marked the beginning of York’s overall transition to virtual international opportunities.
“Obviously it was upsetting, having the trip cut off and flying home, but at the same time the situation was getting really scary in Europe, and Canada had it better under control in that sense,” she says.
“It was definitely my first time travelling that long on a plane alone, and I travelled without my suitcases because I’d left them all in France. I flew straight home from London, kind of like an emergency flight.”
While Shanmuganathan enjoyed her own in-person exchange, she still believes it’s worth it for those virtually studying abroad.
“Of course I think exchange isn’t all just about the school you go to, it’s about learning to live in that environment with the locals as well. But the good thing is, I actually really like the virtual study tour opportunity, where I believe you get to meet other businesses or you get to meet people from different parts of the world, so it’s really eye-opening in that sense.”
“Some of these schools are highly prestigious,” she adds. “To be able to say you studied from them, even virtually, is always going to be an asset for you on your resume.”