This semester I signed up for some online courses. While I firmly believe nothing can compare to having face-to-face contact with my professors, the two classes I signed up for (Earth, Sea, and Sky: A Geographic View and Recent United States History: 1945-Present) will fulfill some of the requirements for my core science classes and for my history minor. It made more sense to me to do these courses online while I'm in Brazil than to try to find course equivalents taught in Portuguese. I've had my history professor in previous classes, so I am familiar with his teaching style and I know what he expects from me. I've also heard positive things about my geography professor, so hopefully I will do well in his class. The best news is that by taking these courses now, I'll graduate on time. (Yippee!)
I've only just started going through my coursework, which is clearly presented on Blackboard (it's the website Ball State uses to handle online course communication between professors and students). The professors have video lectures and assignments for their students; I've already watched a few of these lectures, and I'm impressed with their high quality. Soon I'll have my books and I'll get to work on my assignments. The courses I'm taking are 9 months long (there is also a 10 week "fast track" option), so I'll have to manage my time so I can complete the requirements to receive credit. I like that there are no real deadlines for the courses-- this is ideal for my travel plans since I can study when I have time and let it be when I don't. The biggest catch is that it costs a bit more per credit-hour to take online and distance education courses. For now though, the cost is worth it to me. I'll keep you posted on how things go.