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Visualizing Central Asia: "The Benefits of Virtual Study Abroad Programs" (Juliette Oliver)

Juliette Oliver is a third-year Russian Studies Major and Digital Humanities minor here at UCLA. When not studying, Juliette enjoys practicing Russian language skills or hanging out on the UCLA intramural fields with friends. After UCLA, Juliette hopes to pursue a future using my Russian Language skills and working abroad in Central Asia or working for the U.S. Government. 

About “Visualizing Central Asia”

During the summer of 2020, the UCLA Program on Central Asia invited students to create short videos about the Central Asian region. These projects explore the students’ connections with the area, drawing on relevant courses, study abroad, research, and/or issues of personal concern. The videos cover a range of topics including politics, society, language, food, architecture, and gender. Together, they offer a portrait of Central Asia from a variety of perspectives, contributing to our understanding of a region that is often overlooked.

Video Transcript

● 00:00- 00:11 Hey guys my name is Juliette, and I’m here to tell you about my virtual study abroad experience in Kazakhstan this summer.
● 00:12- 00:18 Now I know when most people envision their study abroad experience, it usually looks a little something like this…
● 00:29- 00:33 Instead my summer looked a little something like this…
● 00:40- 00:51 Now although my summer didn’t look like the traditional summer abroad program, I do wanna share with you a lot of the benefits that I personally gained and I think others can gain from participating in a virtual study abroad program.
● 00:52- 1:03 Firstly, one of the advantages of participating in a virtual study abroad program that I wanna talk about, is being able to study the required material in the comfort of your own home.
● 1:11 - 1:19 For many new students who have never left home before, having to deal with culture shock or living in a new environment with a new Host family can be extremely difficult and challenging.
● 1:20- 1:33 Because I was able to study from the comfort of my own home, this allowed me to put forth most of my energy towards making meaningful and important relationships with my teachers and language partners instead of worrying about acclimating to a new environment.
● 1:34- 1:45 Something else that I thought was really awesome about participating in a  virtual study abroad program was not only was I able to learn more about Central Asia and Kazakhstan, but also my friends and family were able to.
● 1:49- 1:59 Because I was home for the duration of my studies, I was able to everyday tell my parents and my friends what I was up to, whether it be a new word that I had learned, some interesting topic that I wanted to share with them.
● 2:00- 2:06 It was really great to be surrounded by people who were genuinely interested in what I was learning. So they were able to learn something fun too.
● 2:07 - 2:12 This is my friend Stephanie who during my program I was able to share all of my newfound information on Central Asia with.
● 2:13-2:15 Here she is practicing her Russian skills
● 2:18-2:22 “Привет”, “Привет, меня зовут Стефани”.
● 2:27- 2:40 One amazing benefit to doing a virtual study abroad program was the accessibility of the program. Because a virtual study abroad program can be accessed anywhere with a wifi point,this allows students from anywhere in the world to be a part of the program.
● 2:44- 2:52 Here, I actually have one of my friends who participated in the program with me speaking a little bit about how she views the accessibility of a virtual study abroad program as a major benefit.
● 2:54- 3:04 “I think I really benefited from the online program. I think not everyone has the opportunity to take 2 months and go study abroad. This program was really accessible for me”.
● 3:05- 3:14 “During this time I was also taking another class and working, and the fact that it was online, and I was able to study and learn from the comfort of my own home was really beneficial to me”.
● 3:17- 3:27 Many virtual study abroad programs are more affordable and easier for families to participate in than a traditional study abroad program.
● 3:29 -3:41 Because there are no costs associated with having to go to any sort of host country, and the only costs that are associated with it are the registration fees and having wifis access, this makes it very accessible for students of all socio-economic backgrounds.
● 3:42-3:54 In the end, I thought my virtual study abroad program was an excellent way for me to gain confidence in my knowledge of the languages and cultures that make up Central Asia and specifically learning more about the history of Kazakhstan.
● 3:58- 4:04 I know in the future I will continue to look into these sorts of programs or I hope to actually go abroad and be there one day myself.
● 4:06-4:09 With doing so, I know I will look back and be thankful for my time doing a virtual study abroad program.
● 4:10 -4:22 Thank you so much guys for watching my video! I hope my video has inspired some of you to maybe look into signing up for your own study abroad program, or continue learning more about Central Asia. Have a great day!