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Over the past year, TAM students have made different choices as they navigated their paths towards degrees in a pandemic. Since each individual has a unique set of circumstances and goals, students are best served when they are given options. Last summer, three TAM students planned to go to Amsterdam to pursue the double-degree European Governance track at the VU University, Amsterdam. One student chose to go abroad; one student chose to stay in NC and take remote classes; the third chose to take a year off from TAM and intern with a TAM graduate. Now, almost a year later, they reflect on these decisions and on their experiences. The wonderful result is that they are each happy with the path they chose and feel they made the best decision possible. Please read their accounts below.


Natalie Lunsford chose to go to Amsterdam in September 2020. She is there now and is at work on her thesis.

Natalie: When I look back at this year, I am overwhelmed with emotions. I created some incredible memories and made an amazing group of friends that I know will stay in my life for many years to come. I was still able to check off many of the things I had planned to do in the Netherlands, but also do things I did not imagine. We raced to see as many museums and landmarks downtown before the lockdown but as restrictions got stricter, the way I socialized with friends changed as well. We started cooking together and choosing to have lots of slumber parties because the curfew was too soon to say goodbye. I think I am most proud of the self-growth I made this year. I learned a lot about myself and pushed myself out of my comfort zone many times to meet new people and try new things. I had to learn to be okay with not knowing what the future would look like and not being able to plan far in advance. I am excited to visit again in the future, bike through my favorite streets, and see them alive and bustling with people.


Liza Zhytkova writes:

Taking a gap year from my studies during the pandemic has been an incredibly rewarding experience. Rather than embark on my second year of TAM, I decided to stay close to loved ones and focus on my professional development while COVID ran its course. With the help of TAM alum Camilo Ramirez, I began interning remotely at a D.C.-based think tank, the Brookings Institution, in the fall of 2020. Over the past eight months, I have had the privilege of working alongside brilliant minds at Brookings, including communications professionals, research assistants and scholars. It was really thrilling to work through the presidential election and write for the Brookings website. This summer, I’ll conclude my gap year by completing an internship with the Partnership for Public Service, a nonprofit in D.C. that works to increase the effectiveness of federal government. The experience that I have gained so far over the course of this year has given me a better idea of the work I want to pursue and where I’d like to see myself in five years. I have loved learning the ins and outs of the nonprofit world and am excited to dive back into it after graduating from TAM in 2022.

Bridget Killian explains:

Choosing to remain at home and complete my second year of TAM remotely was a difficult decision. It meant that I would not get to live and learn in Amsterdam as I had looked forward to for so long, but it allowed me to have peace of mind and stay close to loved ones during a global pandemic. Because I stayed home, I was not only able to successfully complete my courses and write my thesis, but I was able to continue an internship with a global education company that would have otherwise had to end. I have taken great strides academically, professionally, and personally over the past year and none of it would have been possible without the tremendous support from the staff at UNC and the VU. My well-being in such a difficult time was always a priority for the administrators and my professors and I am very grateful to have been a part of such a supportive program

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