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DCE Magazine

Coming to America – To Study Online

Spring 2021

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 California.

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 computer screen.

“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.”

Marty WartenbergAna’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 schedule?

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.

Ana Beatriz BarbosaHow did you manage to relate and interact with your classmates?

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 adapting?

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.

Marty WartenbergI 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.