COVID-19: The Impact on Studying Abroad

2 min read The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted various parts of college life, including student’s abilities to study abroad.

Lady abroad

Photo Credit: (Lauren Stimpson) Stimpson overlooks Vigo, Spain while studying abroad.

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By Isabella Dominesey | Idominesey@radford.edu

Studying abroad is often described as one of the most influential parts of a student’s college career. Due to the pandemic, many study-abroad opportunities, ordinarily offered each semester, have been indefinitely postponed.

Along with most Virginia colleges, Radford University will not be hosting any faculty-led study-abroad programs for the Spring 2021 semester in compliance with the Virginia Department of Health travel restrictions.

Due to COVID-19, Virginia has instructed its residents to avoid non-essential travel while the pandemic continues to progress.

However, the university is still allowing students to go abroad with third-party education providers.

However, the university is still allowing students to go abroad with third-party education providers.

Although there is a decrease in students planning on traveling to study next semester, compared to previous years, some have committed to plans with affiliate programs.

“I do have students who are planning to go abroad in the spring semester, and I have students who decided to wait till summer or fall semester,” Sara Coulson, Radford University’s Education Abroad Coordinator, said.

While studying abroad always entails research and caution before traveling, students planning to leave next semester have to take different countries’ COVID-19 protocols and restrictions into consideration.

“I think it’s a personal decision for students and their families and what they feel comfortable with, what risks their willing to accept,” Coulson said.

Although the risks may be heightened for spring semester travelers, many believe the experience is worth it.

“It was one of the most transformative experiences of my college career,” Coulson said. “It was eye-opening.”

Lauren Stimpson, who traveled abroad through a third-party affiliate, ISEP Exchange, in Spain during the spring 2019 semester, says students who study abroad are allowed to change their lifestyle.

Person abroad
Photo Credit: (Lauren Stimpson) Stimpson travels to Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, France.

“The best part of studying was living a completely different life in another country,” said Stimpson. “It was terrifying, but also liberating to know that I was all on my own.”

Both Coulson and Stimpson agree, going abroad will allow students to leave everything they know and immerse themselves in a different culture.

“I knew absolutely nobody when I arrived but quickly made friends from all over,” Stimpson said.

COVID-19, although disruptive to most study abroad programs, has also caused the creation of a new type of global study.

COVID-19, although disruptive to most study abroad programs, has also caused the creation of a new type of global study.

“We’ve seen a new rise in virtual global internships for students to have an international experience but not have to travel internationally,” Coulson said.

These internships allow students to work for companies worldwide on their computers without leaving their own homes.

Students interested in studying or interning abroad may contact Radford’s Center for Global Education and Engagement by visiting their website (https://www.radford.edu/content/global-education/home/contact.html).