BOSTON, UNITED STATES, 30.9.2021 – Enter the beginning of Fall, and students were busy preparing for their travel plans to take off to different corners of the world – for Boston University’s Study Abroad Program was set to resume operations after being delayed for a year and a half.
However, the Study Abroad program was not without its restrictions. The rising concern of the Delta variant and differing COVID-19 guidelines across the globe had a slightly different experience for students in store.
The Padua and Venice Italy program, for instance, encountered some issues due to changing travel policies in between departure dates. Students were required to submit a negative COVID-19 test result before boarding the plane, which resulted in a lot of last-minute testing and rushed arrangements.
The executive director of Boston University’s Study Abroad Program, Gareth McFeely, stated that this unforeseen hurdle did not stop anyone from reaching Italy despite the sudden change in travel plans. He also added that the changing COVID-19 guidelines and recent Delta variant was not expected to affect student admissions in Spring.
“The Study Abroad office is in full planning mode and keeping watch on the countries that are still not open to students just yet,” he said.
Countries such as Sydney and Shanghai are not open to students just yet, and only nine out of 30 cities are currently offering to house students for the Fall semester.
Although the program has had its fair share of challenges, McFeely encouraged students to keep an open mind and be willing to make adjustments if needed.
“This is a time of uncertainty. We can do great planning together and have detailed conversations with students if they have concerns, but we have to develop a mindset of great flexibility and be prepared to adapt on the fly.”
A student studying in Geneva, Switzerland, Acosta, mentioned that he had originally planned to go abroad last Spring but hesitated to apply after seeing the plans for Fall 2020 cancelled last year.
However, he did not regret his decision to study abroad, stating that Geneva was a wonderful place with a connected international hub.
“Geneva is a wonderful place in the sense that it’s so beautiful, up in the mountains,” Acosta said. “It’s definitely a place that’s very proud of their culture. It has a lot of great vineyards and amazing lakes and it’s right next to France, so it’s just like a train ride away, and you really get to take in that difference when you’re here studying abroad.”
Approximately 20 students have applied to study abroad in Geneva, Switzerland, and are taking extra precaution to ensure their safety abroad. They are given a weekly COVID-19 test to conduct themselves before returning a few days later.
Despite the challenges that COVID-19 has brought to the Study Abroad Program department, McFeely added that the office did their best to make good decisions for students’ safety and ensure they would feel welcome abroad.
“We’re trying to encourage all students who wish to join us for the Spring program to think in terms of flexibility and adaptation,” he said.
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