""Hello Cougs,

I recently returned from a cruise in the Caribbean where my fiancé and I spent time playing in the surf, splashing in the pools, and catching some delightful naps in the light breeze. We visited Labadee, Haiti and Falmouth, Jamaica. It was a wonderful experience and I don’t mind saying my favorite part was swimming with dolphins.

While on the trip I struggled to stay on top of the courses I mentor and it wasn’t the first time either! I have some general tips that will hopefully help you when traveling for work, family reunions, or family vacations. I did all three types of travel while taking courses.

Tip 1: Planning ahead is a life saver! I always made sure to download all the readings and to carry any textbooks I might need. I never trust that the wifi on the airplane will be working (there are outages!) so I try to work in the airport before catching my flight. I then use the time on the plane for work that doesn’t need access to the internet such as catching up on reading, writing essays, or studying for an exam.

Tip 2: Once I’m on the ground again, I have stopped in the airport of my destination to complete more work. Usually I like to get out of the airport as soon as I arrive, but that’s not always practical. Use any free wifi you can get your hands on! Beyond the airport there might be internet cafes or a business center in your hotel.

Tip 3: When traveling internationally there can be very frustrating differences to deal with. One is the time differences. You might need to rewrite a course schedule for yourself using your actual time zone rather than Pacific Time. It was especially frustrating for me on the cruise ship – ship time is different than anywhere else! Another thing to watch out for is an international firewall. They can prevent you from being able to fully access course materials. If that happens, please reach out to your Virtual Mentors for help! We can walk you through how to get beyond the firewall.

Tip 4: You might be wondering what you should do if you need to take a proctored exam while traveling. My suggestion would be to find a library. A university library would be especially helpful. Once there you can ask for a quiet room to do your exam. Librarians tend to be very helpful people! There might be a conference room or quiet reading nook that you can use. The library may have free wifi too. Be sure to check in about that before your exam. Even a day or so might help you find the perfect spot.

Tip 5: You might be tempted to use the Blackboard Learn App on your phone during your travels. Virtual Mentors never recommend the app for anything more than a quick date check of the Course Schedule or to look up an email address. It’s better to use your Chrome app to login from a tablet or phone. Though you may deal with formatting issues, it is more reliable. Also, try to always submit assignments, quizzes, and exams with an actual computer. Even a borrowed computer can be more reliable than the Blackboard App.

Tip 6: Finally, it might be prudent to skip taking classes during one of the very busy intersessions if you need to travel. One day without internet during a shorter session can significantly set you behind.

Bon voyage!

Fallon