Gabe Bider/The Daily Northwestern
A year ago, Weinberg junior Oliver Borstein was taking Zoom classes. Now, he is studying in Madrid and traveling around Europe in his free time.
Northwestern sent students abroad this fall for the first time since March 2020, when the University canceled all study abroad programs due to COVID-19 travel restrictions. About 200 undergraduates are participating in 42 study abroad programs across 16 countries this fall, Global Learning Office Director Sara West Tully wrote in an email to The Daily.
Borstein, an economics and psychology double major, is participating in Duke University’s International Education of Students Madrid program. He’s taking classes in Spanish, economics, psychology and art history at the University Carlos III of Madrid.
“It’s been really great experiencing a new culture and learning a new language, getting immersed,” Borstein said.
He said he’s been able to travel to other countries in Europe but is required to take a COVID-19 test when he leaves Spain.
COVID-19 guidelines and restrictions vary by location because the spread of the disease is different across the globe. They include limiting international travel, requiring proof of vaccination, wearing masks and social distancing, Tully said.
“The greatest challenge has been supporting students through a long period of uncertainty regarding their study abroad prospects,” Tully said. “Many undergraduates who expected study abroad to be a central part of their academic experience have been deeply disappointed by the suspension of travel during COVID.”
Weinberg junior Elizabeth Page is a neuroscience major and history minor studying abroad in Florence, Italy, through Syracuse University. She said precautions in her program include not allowing students to stay with host families and requiring them to take a COVID-19 test to enter Italy.
Her program also recently imposed stricter regulations on international travel, Page said. She cannot leave the country during her program, but she plans to travel throughout Europe for two weeks after her program ends in December.
Page is taking classes in art history, Italian, history and psychology. She said taking history and other humanities classes has been one of her favorite parts of the program so far.
As a student on the premedical track at NU, she said she has appreciated the opportunity to branch out and try classes she normally would not take.
“It’s been cool to… take a step back from being stressed out,” Page said.
Borstein also said he has enjoyed taking a break from regular classes. He added that study abroad has helped him live in the moment.
“It’s truly important to take a second to slow down and take in what you’re seeing,” Borstein said. “Especially when you get to see such cool things.”
Email: [email protected]
— Students reflect on study abroad experiences lost during pandemic, plan for next year
— Study abroad programs expected to resume fall 2021
— Fall study abroad canceled, the third academic quarter straight with no abroad programs