Study abroad programs expected to resume fall 2021


Illustration by Emma Ruck

According to the Global Learning Office, undergraduate study abroad programs set to begin in fall 2021 are proceeding as planned

Jacquelyne Germain, Reporter

After six quarters of canceled overseas trips, undergraduate study abroad programs are currently set to return for Fall Quarter 2021, according to Northwestern’s Global Learning Office website.

All undergraduate study abroad programs for the 2020-2021 academic year were cancelled as a result of COVID-19, including those set for Summer 2021. GLO Director Sara Tully, however, said that the office is hopeful that fall 2021 trips will be possible.

“Our hope is that the situation with the COVID-19 pandemic will be under greater control by that time and that we’ll be able to see students safely going abroad to study abroad again,” Tully said.

The GLO website encourages undergraduates seeking to study abroad to apply for the Fall 2021 term, but said these programs may be canceled based on U.S. Department of State and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, among other considerations.

The pandemic is deterring some students from studying abroad even though GLO is offering programming.

Weinberg sophomore Gretchen Faliszek had her summer 2020 plans to study abroad in Berlin canceled and does not plan to apply for another program, citing COVID-19 uncertainties.

“I personally just don’t want to even have to deal with the risk or anything like that, because I don’t want to get excited then get let down again,” she said.

While Tully said GLO is optimistic, with the dynamic nature of the pandemic, the office is remaining realistic while advising students. Tully noted that students should have backup plans in case some programs are canceled.

Despite the uncertainty, some students still plan to apply and are looking forward to studying abroad in the fall. Medill sophomore Jack Izzo said he intends to apply to a program in New Zealand considering how well the country has handled COVID-19.

“I’ve seen pictures of just full-on concerts,” he said. “You don’t have to wear a mask because, as it turns out, when you actually have a government that puts public health first, it’s significantly easier to contain a pandemic.”

Communication sophomore Lauren Kelly said they hope to study abroad in either Nantes or Paris in France in the fall as part of an immersion program to allow her to enhance her French language skills and engage with the culture.

Kelly, who is studying theatre, said they hope to attend cultural events during their study abroad trip.

“I think it would really be a shame if all of the museums and orchestras and ballet and operas and theaters were closed,” they said.

Tully said she understands student frustrations about the uncertainty and knows that it’s been a tough year, but she hopes interested students will reach out to GLO and consider all their options in relation to studying abroad.

“It’s been a year of tremendous uncertainty and our real hope is that we can get past that,” Tully said, “so that those who want to have a study abroad experience as part of their undergraduate experience still have that opportunity to do so.”

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