Spring 2020 Stories: Meet Katherine Bublitz

Program and Location:

Major/Minor:

Business Administration

If you were already in your host country when you were recalled home, what are some of your favorite memories from abroad?

I was in Vienna for about seven weeks before I was recalled home due to COVID-19, and I got to have some amazing experiences in that time. My program offered a two-week cultural orientation to the city of Vienna before classes started so I got to meet tons of other exchange students from all over the globe through this program while exploring popular sites of Vienna. We got to take tours of the Schönbrunn and Belvedere Palaces, take day trips to the cities of Linz and Graz, learn the Viennese waltz, take a brewery tour and taste Vienna’s most popular beer, take a tour of the Mozart house concert hall, and take walking tours of some beautiful and historic parts of the city. Despite all these amazing historical and cultural experiences, I think my favorite memory from my time abroad is from the last few nights my friends and I were there. We knew we would all be leaving the city within the next few days at various times so although we didn’t do anything super special the last few days and nights we were together, just spending time with all of them and thinking back on all the incredible things we got to experience together was really special to me. I’m so grateful I got the time abroad that I did because even though I was devastated to come home so early, I’ll never forget the times I had or the people I met while I was on exchange.

What self-care strategies have you used to process the emotions around having your study abroad experience cut short or canceled?

I have been able to be with my family and my boyfriend since my return which has really been a good distraction from otherwise dwelling on the fact that I am no longer abroad. Just being with people I care about in this uncertain time has been a huge help in moving past those sad emotions I was harboring.

Are you continuing classes online? What are some of the challenges to distance learning and how are you overcoming them?

I am continuing my study abroad courses online through my host institution. I think the hardest part about these online courses is that because of global time differences I had to work with people on group projects from around the world and try to schedule out time that all of us could meet across periods of sometimes almost twenty hours. Other than the time change however I think the most challenging aspect for me was trying to stay committed and focused on the course material. Once I returned home I was in a really weird headspace and didn’t really want to do school anymore for a bit so I had to find new ways to motivate myself to stay on top of my schoolwork.

How are you staying connected to the NC State and/or PackAbroad community during social distancing?

I am currently staying with my older sister who is also a member of the Pack so I’m staying connected to NC State through her. Additionally, being in Raleigh has really helped me to feel like I’m back on campus even though we’re not allowed to be there physically; just being in the city that NC State calls home has helped me stay connected to our Pack and our ideology of Think and Do during this uncertain and crazy time.

Are there any resources you would like to share with other students in a similar situation?

I personally haven’t used too many of NC State’s resources that the Study Abroad office has provided for us, I’ve more so been relying on the support of my family and friends along with reflecting back on my experience. Something that has really helped me get through being recalled from my study abroad program has been journaling about my experience, both when I first got abroad and after things turned upside down. It’s also a nice kind of keep safe that you can have to look back on once this all blows over too!

What have you learned about yourself during this time? How have you grown in this experience?

I definitely learned a lot about myself through this entire experience – I knew I was going to learn things about myself going abroad in general but the added twist of COVID-19 has shown me that I am much stronger than I give myself credit for. I’ve become a lot more resourceful and learned to be grateful for the things that you do get to experience and not to take any special amount of time for granted. I also learned that I love city living! Being in a city like Vienna and being able to get anywhere within 10-15 minutes was SO convenient and being able to travel so easily in general between countries was incredible to me. Overall my study abroad experience was one that I will never forget because of the multiple things it taught me and I’ve grown into an entirely new person coming out of something so amazing.

Do you hope to take advantage of other abroad experiences in the future – ie studying abroad again, interning, volunteering, or working abroad, before or after graduation?

I would ideally love to go abroad again during my time at NC State, but unfortunately, I am a rising Junior and not knowing when this will clear up or when study abroad programs will be running again, I’m not sure that I have many options available to me. I’ll have to wait and see but if I am unable to go abroad again while I am still a student at NC State I will definitely be taking advantage of another type of experience abroad at some point in my life.

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