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Univ. resumes study abroad after pause due to COVID-19

After a year-long intermission of study abroad programs during the pandemic, Brandeis students have resumed travel this year. According to a recent BrandeisNow article, 19 students participated in study abroad programs this summer, and more than 50 students are expected to travel this fall to destinations such as Ecuador, Ghana, Mexico, South Korea and throughout Europe. 

Alisha Cardwell, Director of Study Abroad, describes the goals and logistics of study abroad programs this semester via an email interview with The Brandeis Hoot and invites students to explore options for themselves at the “largest study abroad event of the year” on Thursday, Sep. 23. 

We are excited that there are currently Brandeis students studying abroad again around the world! We are early in the study abroad application cycle for next year, but have already enjoyed talking to students interested in studying abroad next summer, semester, or academic year,” wrote Cardwell. 

19 students were among the first to go abroad since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in the Summer 2021 programs which were offered, according to a BrandeisNow article. 18 of the 19 students went abroad through Brandeis study abroad programs. For the Fall 2021 semester, the university has nearly 50 students studying abroad, according to the article

Study abroad experiences have been slightly altered, according to the BrandeisNow article. In order to maintain health and safety measures, students are not allowed to travel between countries for the weekend— something which students studying abroad would typically be allowed to do in previous years prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Students currently abroad have noticed a decrease in tourism which has also impacted the study abroad experience, according to the BrandeisNow article. Multiple students also commented on feeling safer in the country where they were studying abroad due to high vaccination rates and larger percentages of people wearing face masks, according to the article

With the exemption of religious and medical reasons, students must be vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to travel this fall, according to the Brandeis Study Abroad website. Cardwell explains that Brandeis staff are monitoring health and safety precautions and are able to connect students with program-specific requirements for travel. She encourages students to reach out to their program of interest to determine health guidelines including quarantine policies, travel regulations, testing and mask requirements.

After the halt in study abroad programs, Brandeis students voice their excitement about resuming travel; Aileen Cahill ‘23 describes her trip to Siena in a BrandeisNow interview, commenting, “We were very engaged in the art and culture and very lucky to be able to do that.”

Looking to the 2021-2022 academic year, Cardwell writes that the “Office of Study Abroad aims to once again, be able to help students have academically rewarding and immersive experiences abroad where they can live and learn in another culture.” 

The cancellation of study abroad for the spring 2021 semester was announced to community members in an email sent by Lisa M. Lynch, Provost, in October 2020. The university made the decision to cancel study abroad due to: student health and safety, travel restrictions, country-specific requirements, impacts to programs on the ground, the potential for disruptions of consular support abroad and the risk of being sent home early in the event of major health concerns, wrote Lynch. 

Students traveling abroad in the Spring 2020 semester were sent home early when the COVID-19 pandemic began to cause increasing concern. In an email sent on March 16, 2020 to the Brandeis community, university president Ron Liebowitz “strongly advised” students to return home as soon as possible. In the email, Liebowitz noted that many students had already made plans for returning home at that point.

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