The ability to study in Spain, England, Ireland, and France straight from the comfort of your laptop.

By Luis Sanchez, Arts and Culture Staff Writer

Photo credit: ConnectionsAcademy

TORONTO, ON – The University of Toronto’s newest study abroad initiative has recently been unveiled to students. The Head of International Programs and Affairs, Wynn Lells, was all smiles when announcing the program last night via a prerecorded video on the UofT Learning Abroad website. “We are proud to announce that we have partnered with top universities around the world to roll out a truly equitable approach to studying abroad during the pandemic,” informs Lells. “Since COVID-19 and its variants have left students unsure whether the spring semester will be in person or online, we wanted to make sure every student could study abroad while online, even if immunocompromised.” 

This program is divided into three different tiers, offering a variety of experiences based on price. The entry-level summer semester option includes taking up to 1.5 credits from partnered institutions such as the University of Graz in Austria and Zhejiang University in China. UofT will send classes via Zoom link, and dictionaries are not included. 

For a premium price, you can unlock one of two additional options; there’s the “World Wide (web) Explorer” package. For an extra $2,000, the university will send you a custom .jpeg of the country your school is in as a Zoom background alongside an e-postcard to send to all your family and friends. Attending a school in South America will also include a spray tan to get the beach vacation look.

The “Foreign Exchange Deluxe” is available for students looking for the most accurate and authentic option, including immersion in a class where the only language spoken is a foreign one. A Spotify playlist of music indigenous to that area will also be shared with you via email. The package will cost $20,000  to emulate the experience of being ripped off by vendors as a tourist. 

This unveiling has solicited a mixed reaction for students on campus. Bella F. Deck, a second-year Life Sci student looking to do a semester abroad during the summer, is indifferent to these new changes: “My apartment is usually always dirty, and there’s always a glass of wine lying around. Sometimes my friends say I can be pretty mean. I may as well be in France already.” Some other students have taken a more critical approach. “This is a scam. Do they really think we will pay that much money to study online and ruin our mental health all for a piece of paper?? You will never catch me falling for that,” said Maxwell Sheffield, an international first-year Life Sciences student paying $64,000 in tuition this year. 

“We are proud that this program is more affordable to university students than prior in-person study abroad initiatives. Since the students provide food, utilities, and entertainment, we were able to lower the total prices by a total of $200,” said Wynn Lells. “We are looking forward to connecting students to the important values of learning from other cultures and languages.” 

Luis Sanchez is a Staff Writer for the Arts and Culture Section for Trinity Times and a first-year undergraduate student at Trinity College if he doesn’t drop out by the time you read this article to backpack across Nepal.

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