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Blocked from studying abroad, UNL student learns the language from home

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Yesenia Cabrera, a senior anthropology major at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, coped with her new isolated reality by picking up a new language.

Prior to the virus, Cabrera had plans of studying abroad in Amsterdam, Netherlands for the summer. Those plans came to a stop when travel restrictions and study abroad programs worldwide were cancelled.

“It makes me sad that I am a senior,” Cabrera said. “It was my last opportunity to study abroad and now it is not happening.”

Originally, her plan was to study at the Vrije University in Amsterdam in June. She planned on taking classes on the role of ethnographers in anthropology, climate change, and language.

“My goal was to pick up some Dutch during my stay,” Cabrera said. “I like to close my eyes and picture myself at a bar trying to talk to a stranger to practice new words and practice sometimes.”

For now, all she can do is stay at home and practice in front of a screen. To practice her Dutch, she’s been using Rosetta Stone which offers three months of K-12 access for free.

“I’ve always wanted to try it out but never wanted to pay,” Cabrera said. “What college student wants to pay for anything anyways.”

Like Rosetta Stone, many institutions, programs, and websites are offering their services for free to keep people occupied.

“I started trying many different things,” Cabrera said. “But I think combining Rosetta with the occasional reading has been the most effective method for me.”

Cabrera is trilingual, but hopes to pick up a fourth language.

“We don’t focus much attention on learning languages in the states which is a bummer,” Cabrera said. “That’s why I’m fascinated with Europe, everyone speaks a little bit of everything.”

After quarantine, Cabrera will not be able to study abroad but she hopes to do some traveling as soon as it is safe to do so.

“I need to make up for it somehow,” she said.