Travel Blog

Global Travel Experiences Amid a Pandemic

For the past few years we’ve partnered with UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School to provide their MBA students with immersive, global travel opportunities in unique destinations to learn about different cultures and witness firsthand how business is conducted in international markets. These opportunities help the students better understand cultural sensitivities, and prepare them to lead international teams.


Amid the pandemic, Kenan-Flagler was not willing to give up on such global experiences, which truly set the school and the students apart, and we were excited to work with our partners to help develop an impactful virtual experience.

Together, Terraficionados and Kenan-Flagler, developed a Virtual Global Immersion Experience (VGIE) to study the themes of innovation and entrepreneurship in Russia and Estonia. The development of the VGIE required a lot of creativity and innovation to make sure that the program was just as effective and impactful as the in-person global experience.

We are thrilled to report that the VGIE was in fact a huge success! The exposure that the group got to the local businesses, the local way of life and the local culture exceeded the students’ expectations. Many of them felt as immersed in these countries as they possibly could have (without actually being there in-person). Some even felt that their need to travel to these countries had been satiated. Incredible!


Find out more below about the students’ experiences, and check out the interview we conducted with the Senior Associate Director of MBA Global Programs at Kenan-Flagler to get her reactions on the program.

Virtual Travel Amid a Pandemic

During the virtual program we arranged for the group to meet virtually with Founders, CEOs and leaders in the areas of innovation & entrepreneurship in both Russia and Estonia. The meetings were with an extraordinary set of companies that were able to give the group a really good sense of how business is done in these countries. The students even did some work ahead of the meetings to help the companies with any current challenges they were facing. The meetings were a win-win for the students and companies.


During the program we also provided several immersive cultural experiences. We did virtual walking tours with live guides in St. Petersburg (WATCH NOW!), Moscow and Tallinn (WATCH NOW!). The group really felt like they were right there in each of the cities!


The students also had a few hands-on experiences to get to know the cultures even deeper. The group participated in a tour of the Vodka Museum in St. Petersburg, followed by a tasting of Russian vodka; they cooked beef stroganoff in their home kitchens during a live cooking class with a Russian chef; and they each learned to paint a set of Matryoshka dolls, which made for a great souvenir they could keep as a memory of the program.


Over the past year and a half we have had several experiences planning and executing virtual programs. We are prepared to provide an impactful experience no matter the situation. However, we do hope that the next Global Immersion Experience will be an in-person trip.

An Interview from Kenan-Flagler Business School

We interviewed our partner at Kenan-Flagler Business School, Valerie Slate, Senior Associate Director of MBA Global Programs, to get her reactions on the program.


Q. How did the virtual experience compare to the typical in-person experience?

A. While nothing can fully replace the experience of physically being in another country, the virtual immersion we created was able to create authentic, human, and contextual experiences that created very real moments of cross cultural learning and understanding for our students. Without crossing into the VR space, we were able to create moments where it truly felt immersive and as though we were walking with the guide along the streets of the city.

Q. What were your biggest challenges in developing and executing the VGIE?
A. The biggest challenge we faced in the development of the VGIE was truly spending the creative time thinking deeply about what experiences were meaningful in country and how do we pull those threads into a virtual space. The other major challenges were really all about advocacy. Convincing leadership of the value and the real costs associated with development and then advocacy to students for why this experience would be a valuable use of their time and engagement.

Q. How effective was the VGIE in achieving Kenan-Flagler’s GIE objectives (to learn about different cultures and witness firsthand how business is conducted in international markets), and why?
A. The VGIE was a complete and total success. There is very little I would adjust in doing a Virtual Immersion like this again. Students reported growth in some key global competencies, they felt challenged outside of their comfort zones, they felt like they were able to build their network and create community through the course as well as learn from faculty and executives the very real challenges and opportunities of doing business in the countries we studied.
  • 99% of respondents felt like they were challenged outside of their comfort zones.
  • 45% were influenced to consider job-searching in the countries of the VGIE’s
  • 72% were influenced to consider job-searching outside of their home country
  • 81% Felt a greater sense of community within the UNC Kenan-Flagler MBA program
  • 100% felt they were able to expand or enhance their network

Q. What do you think are the top 3 things that the students learned from the VGIE?
A. Self-Awareness, Communication & Resiliency (tied), Flexibility. In addition, it was interesting as well to see that Empathy was rated highly by the students as an area of growth. I think that this is significant to show that we can continue to make human to human authentic connections in a way that develops empathy in our students even in a virtual setting.

As always, please feel free to contact us – We are available to answer any questions or concerns you may have.

Global Travel Experiences Amid a Pandemic