If you’re reading this, you’re probably either already enrolled in a Summer 2021 or Fall 2021 program, or you’re this close to taking the leap. Either way, welcome aboard! We’re excited to hear that you’re starting your international education journey.
We will warn you that things are a still little bit unpredictable these days, but don’t let that deter you from pursuing study abroad. It’s no secret that the pandemic has impacted our ability to travel and immerse in new cultures, but we can make study abroad happen for you — like we did for hundreds of students in 2020 and 2021. Here’s how you can ensure that your study abroad process goes as smoothly as possible.
If you’re like every other human on Earth, you’ve probably already had at least one plan impacted by COVID-19. Fortunately, we’re all getting some good practice at being flexible and adaptable. When finding your perfect study abroad program, understand that your plans might change (due to university restrictions, travel bans and other things outside of USAC’s control), and you may be asked to defer to a different USAC program. If you’re able to be flexible and switch to a different program, do it! We understand that it can be discouraging to hear that your program has been cancelled, but it might be a sign from the universe, and you likely won’t regret your decision to veer off course.
This also means being flexible about the type of program you participate in, not just where. Our Global Perspectives Virtual Internships offer an international education and hands-on job experience that you can get from home. While you won’t be on the ground in your dream location, you’d be surprised at how much you can connect with and immerse in the culture of your virtual internship from thousands of miles away.
Stay Up To Date, But Don’t Worry Yourself
It’s important to stay on top of the ever-changing COVID-19 landscape and understand the situation in your future host country before departure. However, don’t obsess over what you cannot control. Get your information from the right sources and educate yourself (without doom-scrolling) on what you need to do in order to enjoy a healthy study abroad, and leave it at that.
Additionally, if you’re worried about what life abroad is really like, listen to our 2020 and 2021 alumni about their experiences. These students have already been through what you’re worried about. They’ve worn a mask during a 10-hour international flight, quarantined upon arrival in their host country, and explored their house cities and immersed in the culture among business restrictions and social distancing guidelines.
Alumni testimonials are a great way to get a true idea of what life abroad is actually like. (Bonus tip: Many alumni give USAC their contact information to share with prospective students. Ask a program advisor to put you in touch with alumni to talk one-on-one!)
Stay Connected With USAC
One of the best ways to prepare for your study abroad, whether you’re doing so in the middle of a pandemic or not, is to stay in touch with the USAC team. How else are you going to know about program changes, health and safety precautions, and all the fun stuff you’re going to experience abroad?
Here are a few ways you can stay in touch as you plan for study abroad:
- Subscribe to the USAC blog and other study abroad emails. You obviously know where to find us, but did you know that you can get the blog delivered to your inbox? We’ll share our latest blog posts with you weekly, along with regular tips and tricks for things like scholarships, packing, and more.
- Get in touch with your Program Advisor. If you have questions about study abroad, ASK! If you’re already enrolled in a USAC program, you know who your point of contact is. But if you’re still exploring your options, you can find a list of our Advising Department members on the USAC website with links to schedule an appointment to learn more.
- Attend virtual events and drop-in advising sessions. Each month USAC hosts a series of info sessions on a variety of topics, from USAC 101s to studying abroad as an LGBTQ+ student. These info sessions are a great chance to get answers to all of your study abroad questions (not just about COVID-related topics) and talk to a member of the USAC Central Office.
Get Your Budget In Order
You’ve probably heard us say this before, but it’s never too early to start planning financially for study abroad. Now more than ever, it’s important to consider some more “what if” scenarios related to the pandemic and finances and have back-up plans or a contingency fund set aside for your study abroad. The cost of travel could increase, you may be expected to pay out-of-pocket for a rapid COVID test before boarding a flight, scholarships could become more competitive as more students need financial support… there are lots of ways, big and small, that the pandemic could impact your budgeting. We recommend taking a deep dive into USAC program costs, researching affordable study abroad programs and planning for the most financially strenuous scenario. That way you know you’ll be taken care of during your study abroad (pandemic or not!).