group of U of M Students in front of a windmill in Spain

COVID Returnees

    You departed for what might have been your lifelong dream to study in another part of the world, only to be called home early due to a pandemic. You navigated one of the most challenging times in the history of study abroad and US higher education. We commend and celebrate your resilience, courage, and persistence.

    Your experience abroad, while not what you planned, is an incredible accomplishment, perhaps even more so because of our extraordinary global situation. As you move forward from this semester, continue to reflect upon and identify ways you overcame challenging obstacles. It is a life-defining moment, and thus worth finding the words to explain it. For your resumé and in future job interviews, it will set you apart. Here are some ways to get started.

    Studying Abroad During a Global Pandemic: Define Your Experience for Employers

    • Recognize What You’ve Overcome: You’ve navigated a lot. Recognize that your story is one that proves great resilience.
    • Reflect on Your Experience: Processing both the good and the bad of your experience abroad will help you to recognize how much you’ve overcome, and what it took to do so. It’s an accomplishment. 
    • Reach Out to Engage or Find Support: There are ways to get involved or gain support. Contacting your Counseling Service, contacting your Career Center, or interning with the Learning Abroad Center are just a few of the options.
    • Reclaim Your Experience: Being able to speak about challenges you’ve been through can be a powerful way to demonstrate your strengths and skills and reclaim a difficult experience. It may take a bit more distance from your experience to be able to recognize the skills you’ve gained, but starting to think about telling your story to future employers or in graduate school applications will give you a competitive advantage. 

    As time passes, we hope you’re able to start recognizing how much you accomplished, despite coming home early. It took resourcefulness and resilience to plan and execute your time abroad. It required adaptability and leadership to plan an abrupt departure from your host country. Continuing your coursework from another country back in the US took problem solving and a tolerance for ambiguity. These are great accomplishments to be proud of.