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Unexpected opportunities — Corbett scholar Sofia Ngieng

Study break at Granville Island, Vancouver BC. Photo credit: Sofia Ngieng

April 15, 2021

When I first applied to the Corbett Virtual Exchange I really had no idea what an amazing experience I was opening myself up to. All that I knew was that I needed a reason to feel excited when opening up my computer (which had become quite a stressful task as classes were moved online). I remember the excitement and relief I felt when I received my acceptance. After almost a year of mundane everyday tasks I was finally getting the opportunity to step outside of my comfort zone againwithout leaving the comfort of my house!  Yet, doing an exchange in an online environment has pushed me out of my comfort zone and I have been learning so many things from it. In fact, being a Corbett scholar is helping me relearn the values that I had when I went on my first exchange. When I was 16, I had the opportunity to be a Rotary exchange student in Denmark where I met many other students and experienced so many new aspects of Danish society, culture, and politics.

Fast forward three years, I have found myself in same learning position except, due to COVID-19, everything is online. At first, I wondered how I could possibly immerse myself into American culture or into another university without actually physically being there but I have relearned a value that I learned on my first exchange: to seek out and say yes to new learning/growing experiences. As a Corbett student I find myself being motivated and pushed to learn as much as I possibly can which is something that I loved about my first exchange. Honestly, I had forgotten how great it feels to learn new things about other people and other countries. I have especially enjoyed this experience so far because of the connections I am making with the other students! It is always comforting knowing that other people are going through the same learning process as I am and I am reminded again of my first exchange. In particular, I remember being in Seattle in 2017 meeting all of the outgoing exchange students and the unspoken feeling of camaraderie we had. I am once again reminded of that experience with my peers in the Corbett program and I think that it’s great, 3 years later, that my experience in Seattle is being book ended by this second exchange experience. The only difference is that this time, my exchange is online. The best part of being an exchange student though, is learning to adapt and change along with your environment. That’s how we grow as individuals and the Corbett program has helped me do just that. I have had the amazing opportunity to learn, relearn, and grow as an individual and Corbett student so far. I cannot wait to see what other directions this program takes me!

As well, part of the program was to make video tours of different areas in and around our university and city. Not only did this inspire me to get outside and explore the city but, I also make a point now to make sure I go outside and explore once a week. Even though I can’t be in Seattle right now, I am still inspired to get out and explore the city that I am in right now and learn as much as I can. If anything, COVID and the Corbett Virtual Exchange has taught me to appreciate how exciting it can be to experience life from home if I actively seek out new experiences and opportunities.

The Corbett British Columbia-Washington International Exchange Program Fund provides an opportunity for undergraduate students at the University of Washington to spend two semesters at the University of British Columbia or University of Victoria; and for students from the University of British Columbia and University of Victoria to spend three quarters at the University of Washington.