Soon after I submitted my application to ERLP’s summer Dari program, it became clear that there was no way for it to go forward safely considering COVID-19’s rapid spread. Although I had recently been sent home from college to finish the semester on Zoom, I was surprised to see ERLP would also be able to adapt to distance learning for its language offerings.
Welcome to a virtual tour of Tajikistan! I'm currently virtually studying abroad in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. Every week, I spend fourteen hours learning about Tajikistan and the Tajiki language from my teachers and speaking with my conversation partner in Dushanbe. I might be physically in Ohio, but I feel like I'm in Dushanbe.
Welcome to my room. Notecards littered all over the floor, post-its covering my wall, and books in Bosnian-Croatian-Serbian (BCS) stacked on my desk. A rakija glass with Tito’s face, and a Novak Djoković poster stretched across my door to top it off. Some might think I’m a little crazy for the Balkans, and I am not ashamed to admit that they would be absolutely correct!
My concerns about not getting to know Taiwan were quickly expelled. Through not only the textbooks but also my language partner, I have gotten to learn about Taiwan and Taiwanese culture I would not have otherwise known. Through the class, I have learned things like garbage trucks are yellow and play music or that at weddings the newlyweds give out sweets.
Firstly, I am so grateful and thankful to be a recipient of American Councils scholarships: the AC Study Abroad Need-Based and Diversity Scholarships. By receiving these scholarships, I was able to obtain the opportunity to study the language that I really desired to learn.
My decision to study Persian language with the Eurasian Regional Language Program (ERLP) through American Councils, was an unplanned endeavor in the light of the unprecedented circumstances brought on by COVID-19 pandemic. Contrary to many of my classmates who applied in advance with the hope of traveling to their designated countries for the program, I applied knowing this year’s program will be carried out entirely on a remote basis.
I applied to study abroad with TISLP because I believed that living in Taiwan over the summer would be the ideal language immersion environment for me to advance my Chinese language skills and learn more about Taiwanese culture and diplomacy.
This summer has not gone quite like it was supposed to. As a grad student studying Linguistics and Russian & East European Area Studies at Indiana University, this is the first summer in three years that I have *not* been somewhere in the Balkans studying Bosnian-Croatian-Serbian (BCS). This summer, I was supposed to be in Sarajevo, Bosnia, but, unfortunately, a global pandemic had other plans.
Ideally, I would be writing this on a table somewhere in the vicinity of Tbilisi, perhaps at an outdoor locale overlooking the picturesque scenery of the region. But we must play the hand we are dealt, and alas, Fortune has postponed (but not cancelled) my hopes of travel in the Caucasus. That is life. We must adjust, and I believe we have done so to the best as circumstances may allow.
Through my coursework and internship, I was challenged intellectually in a way I had never been before. It was difficult at times to go from three hours in the classroom to four hours working on a research project, but I learned how to dedicate myself to long workdays.