Picture of a laptop screen showing the American University homepage. The laptop sits on a table in the living room

How I Got Ready for a Virtual Term Abroad!

Let me introduce myself: my name is Cheryl, and I am completing my third year of an undergraduate degree in political science and American studies. My interest in American politics, specifically voter behavior, prompted me to apply for a term abroad in the U.S. as a Killam Fellow, and I will be blogging about my virtual exchange this spring semester!

The Killam Fellowship is facilitated by Fulbright Canada, an agency that strives to foster US-Canada relations by facilitating arrangements for academic scholars. The deadline for internal exchange (the option I undertook) is coming up, so make sure you apply if you are interested in studying at an American institution in the 2021-22 year!

This is a table showing the American and Canadian universities participating in the Killam program. Among the American institutions are American University, Arizona State University, Bridgewater State University, Clemson University, Ithaca College, Florida Polytechnic University, Miami Dade College, Smith College, State University of New York College at Plattsburgh, University of California at Irvine, University of Hawai'i at Manoa, University of Maine, University of Texas at Austin, University of Virgina, University of Washington, Vanderbilt University, and Wellesley College. Among the Canadian institutions are Acadia University,  Brock University, Carleton University, Dalhousie University, McGill University, McMaster University, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Mount Allison University, Queen's University, Saint Mary's University, University of Montreal, Laval University, University of Alberta, University of Calgary, University of Ottawa, University of Prince Edward Island, University of Toronto, University of Victoria, Western University, and York University
On the left column are the American universities where you can study as a Killam Fellow.

Though the exchange was planned as an in-person experience, most undergraduate classes for the spring term at my placement, American University, were moved online due to safety concerns regarding COVID-19. I had not heard of virtual exchange, but I figured that if my classes at the University of Toronto would have been online anyway, there is nothing being lost by taking a term online at American U.

A panoramic shot of American University's campus in D.C (photo credit: American University).
A panoramic shot of American University's campus in D.C (credit: American University).

As most exchanges in the past have been in person, I wasn't sure what to expect with an online term. Now that I am in my second week of classes, I am glad to announce that the course offerings are interesting and that the peers I have met are of great candor. But let's backtrack a little: I will kick off my blogging with a post on which courses I chose to form the foundation of my virtual exchange.

My indecisiveness over which courses to enroll in means I am still auditing courses. Most students take five to six 3-credit-hour classes, and I have already dropped two to make room for more. There is a strict limit of 18 credit hours imposed on exchange students, though I plan to take only 15 as I will be simultaneously completing another half course at U of T.

While it is good news that the credit exchange office let me know they don't have any deadlines, the CIE made it clear that I should work vigilantly to have my courses pre-approved by both the credit exchange office for degree completion requirements and subject departments.

I am having a fantastic time exploring the different course options available at AU, for many of them are not subjects that I can explore here at the University of Toronto. Last week, I learned that I am not as excited about the history of American conservatism as I am about campaign financing, for instance. Gaining access to a greater breadth of political science-related subjects will help me realize my academic interests, should I pursue graduate school. By the time my next blog post comes around, I'll be able to speak on which courses I have stuck to, and also: how I make sure to stay organized with classes and events!

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