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Global and Intercultural Engagement offers virtual journeys via Transy Travels

student at a computer

It’s no secret that all of us, even the homebodies and introverts, are feeling stir crazy. Online classes are starting to feel like the new norm, that pile of books previously collecting dust on your nightstand is dwindling, and you’ve caught up on the most recent seasons of all your favorite shows. At this point, most of us would do anything to get on a plane, experience a different culture and be surrounded (socially distanced, of course) by new faces. Every traveling sense experience — the colors of a new landscape, the exhilarating feeling of stepping off a plane, the smell of foods unfamiliar to your palate — is missed. 

However, the reality of the COVID-19 pandemic is that travel is not the safest option, and much to students’ dismay, this includes international study. Losses over the past 10 months have included summer study abroad, research grant travel, GlobalTransy semesters abroad, global internships, May term travel courses and everything in between. The Office of Global and Intercultural Engagement has been hard at work brainstorming ways to bring international experiences to campus, and while nothing can replace the immersive experience of studying abroad, we know there are a myriad of ways to engage students and encourage them to continue thinking in a global mindset.

Enter Transy Travels, a new program from the Office of Global and Intercultural Engagement that will take participants on a virtual tour of a different country each month. This first month we are highlighting Japan, a country known for its unique culture, stunning natural beauty and technological advancements. On these virtual tours, powered by Google Earth, we will explore fascinating cultural sites, national and historical landmarks and natural wonders. We will also highlight a few study abroad opportunities in each country, anticipating the day when we are able to safely send our students back out into the global classroom. 

“We know how devastated our students are about their study abroad experiences being canceled due to health and safety concerns surrounding the pandemic,” said Courtney Smith, director of global and intercultural engagement. “So we wanted to find a way to bring the world to Lexington. It is our hope that these virtual tours give students, faculty, staff and alumni of Transy a way to explore and learn more about the world from the safety of their own couch. The world is becoming increasingly globalized and interconnected, so it is important for all students to internationalize their Transy experience, whether that be abroad when it is safe, or virtually.”

Make sure to follow along with our Google Earth tour of Japan, and stay tuned as we release a new tour each month. If you are unfamiliar with Google Earth or would like assistance on how to operate the tour, please watch this brief tutorial to ensure you are able to get the most out of the experience. And feel free to email Smith if you have any questions.

It is our sincere hope everyone is able to enjoy these tours, and that the spark of excitement about travel and study abroad is kept alive until we arrive safely on the other side of this pandemic. Happy (virtual) travels!