By Megan Loock
Elm Staff Writer
On Feb. 9, the Global Education Office announced via email that they will be forging ahead with their study abroad program next semester, opening applications for both the fall 2021 and All-Year study abroad programs.
All programs were cancelled for the 2020-2021 school year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The Global Education Office has been working continuously with our programs, that never really stopped,” Assistant Director of the Global Education Office Sarah Lyle said.
At least 24 students planned to study at Washington College via the international exchange program, according to Lyle.
Junior Iyonna Young was one of many students who did not get to study abroad for the fall 2020 semester.
According to Young, she applied for the study abroad program in the spring of 2020 “as soon as the application opened,” and was planning on attending Nebrija University in Madrid, Spain.
“I decided to study abroad because so many students have come back telling of their experience [and] how much fun they had, how healthy the food was over there, how exciting everything was,” Young said. “The idea of just being in Europe was just exciting to me.”
After cancelling all study abroad programs, GEO gave students the option to defer their plans to a semester, but changed those plans as the pandemic continued into the spring 2021 semester.
This decision to cancel all deferred programs was merely for practical purposes — the consideration that government documents have expiration dates, some of the students who planned on studying abroad have graduated, etc., according to Lyle.
GEO have tried to simulate the study abroad experience with virtual opportunities to attend classes abroad, and internships; however, not a lot of students were interested.
“Which I can understand,” Lyle said.
Despite all of these changes, the study abroad program will continue to operate under normal circumstances next semester.
“We feel like the situation is improving worldwide that most programs will be in person next fall, but we do keep the caveat that it is completely dependent on the [COVID-19] pandemic,” Lyle said.
As for Young, she does not plan to study abroad again next semester.
“I just don’t think that I would be able to fully enjoy it the same [as] I would have my junior year,” she said.
“Going abroad is always going to be a bit of a risk and it’s one of the greatest things you could ever do,” Lyle said.
The opportunity to virtually study abroad is still available to international students looking to study at WC, according to the website. For further questions about the virtual option, email Lyle at email@example.com.
The deadline for the study abroad application is March 15. For more information about the study abroad programs and virtual opportunities visit https://www.washcoll.edu/people_departments/offices/global-education-office/study-abroad/index.php
Featured Photo caption: Foster House is home to the Global Education Office, where many students go to learn more about opportunities to study abroad to broaden their horizons. Photo by Ben Wang.