Coming to America – To Study Online
This DCE alumna left Brazil
to study at UCI weeks
before the campus closed –
and she has no regrets.
“Online is more dynamic, impersonal, and direct.
Being in person you get to interact with teachers
and classmates, go out after class, and socialize.”
Ana Beatriz Barbosa, Graduate
When Ana Beatriz Barbosa decided to leave Brazil to study in
the U.S., she knew it was more than just a university adventure.
Armed with an advertising degree, Ana wanted to focus
on digital marketing and project management, explore the
region, and have a real on-campus experience. When she
heard that UCI offered certificate programs in both subjects,
along with internships, it was an easy decision. She had
visited San Diego years earlier and fell in love with Southern
But just a week after arriving in Irvine, Brazil closed its
borders due to COVID-19, and UCI shut down its campus
soon after, with all courses shifted online. So, while she was
still studying abroad, it was in quarantine, in front of a
“I think today, even with the pandemic and not having the
campus experience, I made the right choice,” Ana said.
“Everything that I learned during this time and was able to
develop through my studies and internship was very
rewarding. Today I find myself more prepared and more
secure to take on the new challenges that lie ahead.”
Ana’s plans to launch a new life in California haven’t been
derailed in the least. She adjusted to the new abnormal along
with her DCE instructors, including Marty Wartenberg, one
of her favorites. But it was not always easy.
“My final project management class on global leadership was
never intended to be online,” Wartenberg said. “We had to
do considerable changes to the content and the method and
flow of the class materials. We moved away from the lecture
model to a much more inclusive and extensive participative
mode, a lot of discussion and back-and-forth questioning.”
Ana adapted quite well, he added. He fondly remembers
her as highly active and engaged with her team. “She was
the kind of student instructors love. She didn’t just absorb
information, but truly tried to understand.”
Ana recently took time to elaborate on her DCE experience
during the lock-down of spring and summer 2020 – the
challenges as well as the rewards.
How difficult was it to pivot to an all-remote class
Everything that is new can be challenging, and it was
frustrating not being able to experience the campus and
meet classmates in person. But it’s a matter of adapting. It’s
actually difficult to compare the two experiences. Online is
more dynamic, impersonal, and direct. Being in person you
get to interact with teachers and classmates, go out after
class, and socialize.
How did you manage to relate and interact with your
We scheduled virtual meetings outside of our coursework
to chat, study, and entertain ourselves. That made the
experience much better. In the end, it’s all about the way
you deal with a situation. This one, in particular, was one
that we couldn’t control and had to reinvent ourselves.
Did your classmates and instructors have any problems
It was a new experience for all of us, so there can always
be setbacks. That’s normal, but all the classes I took online
worked out well, everything was always on time. And it’s
funny that even online we could see some behavior typical
of the ‘real’ world – students who arrive early, those who
bring coffee to class.
The way I’m describing it might make it sound like it was
super easy, right? But it wasn’t. Being away from home and
making these important decisions with so many uncertainties,
I sometimes didn’t know if I was doing the right thing or if I
should go forward with my plans.
I understand you especially liked your online classes with Marty Wartenberg.
He was so good! I’d joke around that I saw Marty as a grandfather who guided me through this experience and always encouraged me. I think Marty’s classes and his life experience made the courses much more relaxed and interesting. In fact, every day Marty showed us a different flash-mob video from around the world. It was a happy way to start the class and it had everything to do with what we were studying: different cultures, ways of leading, and working environments. It was incredible to be able to hear what he had to teach sitting at my computer.
How did your internship work out?
Through the internship, I was able to understand the work environment in the United States and also develop analysis and research for the medical, water districts, and political sectors. The experience was very rewarding, mainly because I managed to achieve some goals: gaining work experience and developing and applying my skills in digital marketing.
So what’s the final verdict? Was it all worth it?
I thought this international experience would change my life, and today I am sure of it. With the support of everyone from DCE, I managed to have this unique opportunity. All the courses provided the opportunity to learn, understand, and apply everything I experienced in these nine months with UCI. It’s like a new beginning.
What’s the next step?
I’ve decided to apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT) and stay here in the U.S. Right now, I’m interviewing and applying for jobs. It makes me anxious, but I know I can do it! In my family we have a joke that when we really want something, we say it will snow on Wednesday. That’s because when we went to Bariloche to ski, there was no snow at all, and that was all we wanted. My mother said to us, ‘Calm down, it will snow on Wednesday,’ and it really happened! Now I’m looking forward to my Wednesday.
Learn more about DCE’s International Programs.