March 08, 2021

Liz Ludwig ’21 was looking forward to travelling to London for the Sigmund Weis School of Business’ long-running Global Opportunities program, where she was most excited about the opportunity to complete an international internship. But unfortunately for Ludwig, the pandemic halted her plans.

“I felt awful,” Ludwig said. “When it got cancelled, the GO staff encouraged us to pick winter or summer programs as a possibility, so I chose the New Orleans program, which also got cancelled.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on international study. November’s Open Doors report from the Institute of International Education offered the first glimpse on its impact. Although data was not yet available on the numbers of U.S. students studying abroad, IIE’s survey found that new international enrollments in the U.S. dropped by 43% in fall 2020.

Instead of waiving the university’s cross-cultural requirement, which has become a hallmark of a Susquehanna education, the university reimagined it in the age of COVID. Students who were left in the lurch were presented remote program options in Italy, Japan, Mexico, Spain and others.

“Our experience during the pandemic showed us that it is actually even more important than ever for our graduates to have an intercultural experience and reflection, and that we can provide that virtually until we can safely travel in person again,” said Scott Manning, dean of global programs.

Ludwig, a double major in luxury brand marketing and management and strategic communications, chose a program based in Sorrento, Italy.

Ludwig admits, her expectations were not high.

“Honestly, I was expecting disappointment because we weren’t going in person. However, I was proven wrong, and I gained a lot of experience and value from a remote international experience,” Ludwig said. “Our coordinators, instructors and supervisors from SU and from our Italian partners went through many efforts to ensure we did not lose cultural immersion despite being remote.”

And Ludwig got her international internship at Naples’ Art Hotel Villa Fiorella, an international luxury hotel. The internship paired perfectly with Ludwig’s career aspirations.

“I’m planning on going into the hospitality field,” she said. “My internship allowed me to contribute to Art Hotel Villa Fiorella’s marketing strategy from the comfort of my own home while still learning about the culture of Italy and adapting to workplace differences.”

Although the time difference presented some challenges (Italy is six hours ahead of the East Coast), Ludwig said the experience exceeded her expectations and hopes students will approach remote GO with an open mind.

“When it’s safe to travel again, we will be able to freely explore other cultures in person, but don’t let the current climate discourage you from maximizing the value you get from this experience,” she said. “The GO office and SU’s partners across the world are here to help you grow as a person and as a professional — no matter where your learning physically takes place.”