Study Abroad

Study Abroad during the Covid-19 pandemic

Study Abroad during the Covid-19 pandemic
Written by Publishing Team

(Photo courtesy of UMass Lowell) The pandemic has halted many programs and adaptation/coordination has been needed.

Kira Barry
connector editor

As the pandemic continues, with no clear end in sight, UMass Lowell continues to operate and provides many of its usual services, although capacities vary. Among their programs hardest hit by COVID-19 are the university’s study abroad programs.

UMass Lowell provides opportunities for students to travel abroad in various ways, such as faculty-led programs, exchange programs with partner institutions in countries around the world and internships.

In the summer leading up to the current academic year, before lessons resume in-person for those vaccinated against COVID, UMass Lowell was one of the only UMass universities with a study abroad program.

“There were four groups traveling abroad, led by faculty to study abroad, for the entire UMass system last summer,” said Professor Julian Zabalpesqua, visiting professor and coordinator of Communications and Study Abroad at the Emeritus College. Among them are three UMass Lowell programs, I went to San Sebastian, Spain.

“I was determined to provide this opportunity to the students. We obviously want to keep them safe. [Obviously] With COVID, you can’t guarantee the safety of anyone but we have a set of protocols in place to significantly reduce the risk. “

Of the three groups that traveled with UMass Lowell over the summer, none of the students reported COVID-19 as it related to the trip. UMass Lowell also takes into account travel restrictions from each country. Honors College will not be traveling to Cuba this winter due to the country’s travel restrictions. Additionally, just like students who are required to be vaccinated in order to attend classes on campus, those who wish to travel need to be vaccinated and have recently had a negative COVID test.

For students looking for different study abroad experiences, different countries may be more attractive than others. If a student is looking to do an entire semester abroad or do an internship, a country like Korea, which requires a two-week full quarantine on arrival regardless of vaccination status, will be more attractive than a student looking to experience just two weeks outside the country.

Verne McKinnon, director of Study Abroad and International Experiences, said UMass Lowell typically has about 22 programs run annually, although that varies, and this year “[We’ll] Maybe less than 10 this school year. But that’s fine, you know everything. Everything with COVID is extra work…. We want to make sure that it is the right place where students can have a good experience and that everyone can stay healthy.”

Students also have the option to choose a country to study abroad outside of the programs offered by UMass Lowell. They can talk with the study abroad office and plan what their travel and time in the foreign country will look like.

UMass Lowell faculty and those responsible for studying abroad emphasized that despite the restrictions, travel abroad is not discouraged. Of the facilities the university provides for students who have certain scholarships but do not wish to travel during the pandemic, Zabalbeascoa said, “There have been a lot of exits presented to you on the way towards your application…your ability to defer to the next year.”

Regarding the groups that decided not to defer their applications until next year, Zabalpesqua said, “To study abroad in San Sebastian in the summer of 2021, those students who said yes, were determined to make the most of their experiences… Many of those experiences kept us away from those experiences. and out of the world for a while”

Students who wish to study abroad in their second, middle or senior year must start early in their first year with planning for a semester, year or summer abroad.

“[The] The world is often sold to us as frightening…of course, there are negative potentials there…but what often happens when you leave the known world of the unknown, when you come across and share and sit down and break bread Another unquoted quote is that you tend to recognize common humanity that unites us all. The world’s problems require cooperation.”

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