In September, UChicago Study Abroad announced the resumption of most of its faculty-led and direct enrollment study abroad programs for the rest of the year and beyond. The College suspended all undergraduate study abroad programs in response to the pandemic.
According to Director of Study Abroad Sarah Walter, the plans to resume programs were developed by the Study Abroad Office with guidance from the University’s Pandemic Travel Review Committee. Through a continuous process of evaluation, the office had to consider the program type, local COVID-19 restrictions, and travel conditions to determine the feasibility of each program within its respective location. As a result, the majority of programs have resumed, except for those in Hong Kong and mainland China due to travel restrictions and quarantine requirements.
To accommodate students who were unable to participate in their cancelled study abroad experiences last year, the Study Abroad office offered added capacity for certain programs this year. Walter stated in an email, “I can confirm that we added new Civilizations programs in Paris and Barcelona this winter, and we made available any other open spots in existing programs to students whose programs were cancelled last year.”
During the study abroad application process last winter, students enrolled in the Autumn 2021 programs also faced uncertainty over whether their programs would get cancelled. Third-year Fiona Brauer is currently studying in Scotland through the University's direct enrollment program with the University of Edinburgh. “It was made pretty clear when you were applying that your program might get cancelled or might get delayed,” she said of her application process last year.
Walter explained that, due to the unforeseeable future of the pandemic, the Study Abroad Office must still continually monitor conditions in study abroad locations to ensure their safety. “Our hope is to continue operating as many programs as possible this year and beyond, though we have learned through experience that circumstances are always subject to change,” she said.
In the case that circumstances do change, the office must adjust programs accordingly. Walter stated, “Adjustments could be as modest as altering programmatic activities in response to local public health restrictions or as significant as relocating a program, or moving it to a remote format. Of course, we hope that the more significant changes will not be necessary.”
Applications for 2022-23 study abroad programs will open in mid-November.