Spring study abroad: Pandemic uncertainty

Sarah Haber, News Content Editor

With the coronavirus pandemic continuing to pose a global threat, sophomore and junior students are unsure of whether they can still participate in study abroad programs.

The University offers several “Bucknell In” programs that are created, organized and led by University faculty. Typically offered year-round and limited to 10-15 students, these programs offer University courses in a variety of disciplines and international and domestic locations, including Athens, Johannesburg and New Orleans. The University also encourages students to apply to one of their 450 partner programs. 

All Fall 2020 study abroad programs were canceled, leaving many students scrambling to make arrangements for their fall semester, whether it be returning to campus or participating in remote instruction.

“My scholarship requires that I go abroad for at least a semester and I was planning on participating in the ‘Bucknell en France’ abroad program in the fall semester of this year. The program being cancelled put me in a pretty precarious position since I need to figure out how to fulfill that requirement. I am hoping to be able to go abroad in Spring 2021,” Jasmine Minhas ’22 said. 

The cancellation of the Fall 2020 study abroad programs followed the decision in March for all students enrolled in international programs to return immediately to the United States, regardless of whether they were abroad with a “Bucknell In” program or any of the study abroad partner programs.

“Studying abroad in Vienna was such a special, empowering time in my life. I was devastated when it was cut short due to COVID-19. My last night in the city, my friends and I sat together, watched the sunset, and toasted to the unforgettable, magical moments we had. That is how I choose to remember my time studying abroad. I would not change it for a chance to do it over again because those months were truly life-changing. I am forever grateful for the people I met, the experiences I had and moments I shared in the most captivating city in the world,”  Mackenzie Gross ’21 said.

According to the University, 49% of students study abroad at some point in their college careers. However, with the continued cancellation of study abroad programs across the nation, this statistic could change considerably.

“We are planning for Spring 2021 study abroad, for both Bucknell-in and Partner (third party) programs. We, however, continue to monitor the state of affairs in the field, regarding the global pandemic and the general safety issues it raises for our students. Many factors will drive decisions regarding the status of the Spring 2021 programs, including travel restrictions to various countries, availability of adequate care on-site, and the CDC and Department of State security advisories,” Director of the Office of Global & Off-Campus Education Dr. Stephen Appiah-Padi said. “It is our hope that the global situation will change for the better by the end of September when we expect to make a firm decision.”

The Office of Global & Off-Campus Education advises students interested in studying abroad during the Spring 2021 semester to look into abroad opportunities and will allow students to submit new applications for the upcoming semester.

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