Photo courtesy of MTSU Office of Education Abroad
Story and Photos by Colby Turner | Contributing Writer
The fall semester has finally begun at Middle Tennessee State University for the 2021-2022 school year, and the Office of Education Abroad is ecstatic to finally be able to welcome back incoming exchange students from around the globe.
“I think we have seen a level of cautious optimism during this time,” said Melissa Miller, the Director for the Office of Education Abroad at MTSU. “Our partners are a lot like us, they are working very hard to get their students prepared for study abroad.”
For the Fall 2021 semester, the Office of Education Abroad has welcomed 12 exchange students. In a normal year, MTSU would host 25 to 30 students. Of the 12 that are currently at MTSU, six are from Japan, three are from Taiwan, one is from France, one is from Germany, and one is from Denmark.
Kanako Kubo is one of the six Japanese students who came to MTSU for the Fall 2021 semester. She is a fourth-year student majoring in English and Communications from Seinan Gakuin University, a partner school of MTSU in Fukuoka, Japan.
“While looking at the Instagram’s and websites of all of the partner schools in the United States, I felt that MTSU students had a strong love for the school,” Kubo said. “MTSU seemed like one big community with many warm people.”
Kubo, like many other exchange students, has been getting involved in campus life just as any other new MTSU student would.
“Every day is exciting. The campus itself is like a small town, and there are many events, so I feel connected with people. This is the most shining thing in my life right now,” said Kubo.
Miller believes that the return of incoming study abroad students feel like a step toward normalcy for MTSU. “It honestly feels a little bit like we’ve gone back to normal. Our students have demonstrated their abilities to be adaptive,” Miller said.
Reflecting on past semesters since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, where study abroad opportunities were limited to online courses for local students at universities overseas, Miller noticed that MTSU students never lost the desire to study abroad.
“Even though we weren’t sending or receiving students, our advising levels were still high. Students came to talk to us even in the pandemic, so I think that interest level never went away,” Miller said.
MTSU students tended to keep this little glimmer of hope the whole time. I think we’re always looking for these glimmers of hope, and this to me is a glimmer of hope for the future.Melissa Miller – Director for the Office of Education Abroad at MTSU
The MTSU Office of Education Abroad is preparing to welcome even more students in the spring semester, with incoming exchange students coming from even more countries, such as England, Scotland and Finland.
The Office of Education Abroad urges all students who may be interested in study abroad to visit their page on MTSU’s website, where they can find information on how to get started on their journeys abroad.