By: Bailey Martin
A year and a half into the COVID-19 pandemic, people around the world are wondering when they can get back to their “normal” activities. One that is on the mind of many college students is when study-abroad programs and travel will return, and how different those trips will look when they do.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced many nations to close their borders and many American students raced to catch the last flight home. Schools are in a difficult position. They are dealing with travel restrictions, policies and procedures that are constantly changing and updating.
According to Stevenson’s Director of International and Off-Campus Study, Michelle Schwartz, the university is “following the guidance from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) and US Department of State for traveland is actively considering re-opening the Study Abroad program.”
The CDC website states that people should not travel until they are fully vaccinated. However, if one should travel, they must follow all safety guidelines put in place. The CDC offers insight on protocols for reentry to the United States as well. Given the rise in cases, there are some countries that won’t even allow United States citizens to visit, vaccine or negative COVID test aside. The US Department of State—Bureau of Consular Affairs explains that countries like Australia and Indonesia have restricted travel to US citizens all together, even if they follow protocols. However, countries like France have restricted travel to anyone outside of the European sector, given their recent surge in cases. These restrictions are constantly changing as the number of cases rise in many different parts of the world.
The disappointment of travel-loving students is palpable. “This entire generation of college students has completely missed the opportunity to travel abroad,” said senior Graphic Design major, Gloria Healy.
Healy said that “before the start of the pandemic, I had been interested in the idea of traveling to a new place to learn and live in.” Gloria is looking forward to the study-abroad program returning soon but said she also “would not want it to be unsafe for the students or anyone else.”
While the reopening plan for Stevenson hasn’t been made yet, many other colleges already have students studying oversees. Schools like American University in Washington DC is allowing international trips, but with a smaller selection of opportunities.
Students might ask why Stevenson is taking longer to reinstate travel. Michelle Schwartz said that Stevenson is simply being more cautious. “(We’ve) been very thoughtful in considering when to safely restart study abroad, keeping the health and welfare of our students as a priority,” she said.