The Smell, the Emotion, and the Lebowski Shock: What Virtual Education Abroad Can Not Do?


  • Wei Liu University of Alberta
  • David Sulz University of Alberta
  • Gavin Palmer University of Alberta



study abroad, virtual, online, intercultural learning, immersion, embodied learning, small culture


Education abroad has been a key vehicle for students’ intercultural learning. In response to the international mobility challenge due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many institutions have tried to shift to virtual programs in an attempt to provide continued education abroad experiences. This situation has amplified discussions about online education abroad programs as a way to address some equity issues in the internationalization of higher education. However, there seem to be few discussions about differences between physical and virtual programming with regard to students’ intercultural learning experiences. Fundamentally, what dimensions of traditional education abroad programs can and can not be replicated by online programming? Through a narrative inquiry with three international educators on their own intercultural learning experiences, this study argues that the personal cultural immersion and the associated embodied learning of complex nuanced cultural instances cannot be replaced by virtual programming.


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How to Cite

Liu, W., Sulz, D. ., & Palmer, G. (2022). The Smell, the Emotion, and the Lebowski Shock: What Virtual Education Abroad Can Not Do?. Journal of Comparative & International Higher Education, 14(2).



Empirical Article