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Learning a language abroad during COVID-19 – here’s what our students say

Learning a language abroad during COVID-19 – here’s what our students say

Here at EF, we’re committed to opening the world through education and to making sure that learning never stops. Throughout these tumultuous times, we’ve taken extensive safety measures to ensure our campuses around the world remain open.

Thanks to our excellent staff and community, students from all over the world have kept living the language in their dream destinations: bonding with fellow students from different countries, practicing their language skills with locals, and exploring the very best their destinations have to offer (hello Malta’s Blue Lagoon!)

Here are a few snippets of stories from some of our students who have traveled abroad with us during the Covid-19 pandemic — from Malta, Munich and Rome to San Diego and Honolulu.

Sofia from Slovakia – EF Malta

“Even though my English is advanced, I chose to study it in St. Julian’s, Malta. I did so to meet people from all around the world and enjoy my summer with people my age.

I was one of the first people to arrive in Malta when the stricter restrictions kicked in. We were required to wear masks, sanitize and social distance but after some time, we got used to it. Everyone was required to have a PCR test upon arrival so it made me feel safe that everyone is in good health. We were all in this together, so we tried to help each other out.

The student life was amazing. Even though there is a limited number of people in each classroom, I was lucky to be in an awesome group of students. We quickly bonded and made a very friendly environment.

It is extremely hard to choose only one best memory, as the whole trip was one of my favorite memories so far. However, if I had to choose, it would have to be the beach day at the Blue Lagoon. Our whole friend group went there on an EF trip and it was just amazing. We had a swim in the clear blue waters, went to the water cave, cliff jumped and enjoyed a refreshing drink in a pineapple.”

Afonso from Switzerland – EF Malta

“I originally booked my language course in Santa Barbara. Unfortunately that didn’t work out due to the restricted entry requirements. EF contacted me when it became clear that entry into the USA would not be possible. They informed me about the various options and so I decided on Malta. EF took care of all the organization and the rebooking and I didn’t have to worry.

My language stay was just fantastic. Never in my life would I have imagined it to be so cool. From the beautiful beaches of Malta to the lessons where I learned a lot, everything was just great. I will certainly never forget Malta and everything that I experienced there.

There weren’t many restrictions. You had to wear a mask everywhere except on the street and your temperature was measured before school started, but that didn’t bother me. We always had disinfectant available everywhere and knew how to behave. Despite the restrictions, we were able to have a lot of fun.”

It is very difficult to choose one favorite memory, because I have seen so many beautiful things. My top three would be the day trip Comino / Blue Lagoon – I’ve never seen such a beautiful beach. The water is very light blue and crystal clear and has the perfect water temperature. Another is the great time I spent with my host family. Sometimes we would play games together in the evening and get to know each other better. Lastly, the friends for life I made in Malta. I have had the privilege of meeting and spending time with people from all over the world. I have made many friends in my heart.”

Read more about Afonso’s experience here.

Alexandra from Slovakia – EF Rome

“I took my EF language course in Rome, Italy during September 2020. I always wanted to learn Italian and I will continue to do so, because it is a cool language.

Things changed a bit with the Covid-19 restrictions, but it was not so limiting as I initially thought. Obviously, there were some challenging situations, such as learning a foreign language with a face mask, always keeping 1-meter distance from other classmates during all lessons and conversations, but overall it was manageable. And I do understand that all these measures are in place to protect us and the teachers.

Parties were not allowed for obvious reasons, except one dinner meeting where we could sit maximum two persons per table. It was more like speed dating than a party! With all these things in place, it was more challenging to find friends, but I have managed that too. I have met some very interesting and lovely people. We spent our time together during lunch time  and coffee breaks.

The best moment of my stay was when I realized I was making real progress in the language and I am able to speak up and understand.”

Maxime from NL – EF San Diego and EF Honolulu

“I was sure I wanted to leave the Netherlands to learn English, because I think this is a very beautiful language and it is one of the most spoken languages ​​in the world.

What attracted me most to San Diego was the campus. It is one of EF’s largest and newest campuses with a wealth of facilities. I especially like the swimming pool and volleyball court and that I always have access to them. San Diego is also one of the safer cities in America.

I chose Honolulu mainly because I fell in love with all the images on Instagram and Pinterest.

It is mandatory in California to wear a face mask in buildings and busy areas where you cannot keep 6 feet (1.82 meters) away from each other. In my opinion, this is observed very well and that also feels safe. They still find it very difficult to keep their distance here, but that is precisely why I think it is great that everyone wears their mask.

One of my best memories here is from last weekend – a road trip to Borrego Springs, a desert that is about a 2-hour drive from campus. We drove to the desert listening to English, German and Dutch music. On the way we stopped to take some pictures and when we got to the desert it was 42ºC. Although it was so hot we still wanted to do a short hike. After a 20-minute walk we walked back because it was too much for a few people. On the return journey, half of us were asleep so it was nice and quiet. To end the day well we went to Sunset Cliffs for the sunset. A super fun day!”

Read more about Maxime’s experience here.

Camilla from Sweden – EF Munich

“I decided to go abroad with EF to study German in Munich because I simply needed a change. At the same time, the Corona pandemic came, so longer trips and backpacking options were not relevant. I came up with the idea that I could go to Germany and finally bring my school German to life.

Studying abroad during the Corona pandemic was not an obvious choice, but I got a lot of help from EF who continuously updated according to the situation. The road here may not have been the most typical, but today I am so glad I am here!

It’s hard to say whether the teaching has been influenced by Covid-19 as I can not compare with how it was before, but I do not think it has been affected much. Of course we have to wear a face mask when we walk around the corridors, but as soon as you sit down in your place in the classroom (and have enough distance from each other) you can take off your mask. There is also hand sanitizer everywhere. Every morning when we come to school we also have to take our temperature. I think it feels safe!”

Just like in Sweden, most things are open, but with more distance and sometimes mask requirements apply. We go to beer gardens, hang out in parks and eat at restaurants. From time to time we do more “tourist stuff”, such as visiting museums or making excursions. What is so good about Munich is that it is so centrally located in Europe. You can get an hour by train to the Alps and for a day hike. If you add a few more hours by train, you can travel to Austria, Italy and several other countries. There is so much to discover!

I’d say the best thing about studying abroad with EF is getting to know all the new people and learning all about each other’s different cultures!”

Read more about Camilla’s experience here.

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