Ashley Webster (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Study abroad restrictions are loosening up as Ursinus’ response to the Covid-19 pandemic evolves. In Spring 2020, students studying abroad were forced to return home when the pandemic hit, but opportunities have resumed. While many schools were still completely virtual, Ursinus sent students abroad. However, the college only restricted participants from traveling to countries with a designated ‘Level 3’ advisory, according to the Ursinus College Wellness Center webpage.
Studying abroad is a great opportunity for those to become fully immersed in another culture and gain experience speaking another language, depending on the destination. Connections can be made with people in our countries, as well as between students. Studying abroad can even create lifelong relationships because of the time spent together.
It is incredibly important that students represent both Ursinus and our country by respecting the values and culture of countries they are visiting. Appropriate behavior from students while abroad might also help the United States improve its image in the international sphere. American tourists have a negative stigma, particularly overseas in Europe. According to the Atlantic, tourists from the United States have a reputation of being “loud” and possessing “few social graces.”
Students sent home in Fall 2020 had their time abroad cut in half. Elisa Rodriguez, a senior majoring in French, was abroad in France as the pandemic conditions worsened. She and her friends were worried about being stranded as countries began to close their borders. But even in her two short months abroad, she believed she had significantly “improved my French speaking and comprehension.”
While a majority of folks are vaccinated and borders have opened up, Ursinus students are excited for study abroad opportunities to increase. A junior at Ursinus, Isabel Wesman, has always wanted to study abroad in France. She looks forward to “pushing through language barriers” while abroad. She hopes that her time in France will allow her to become a better global citizen. Although she is upset to lose time on campus, she feels that the opportunity to study in another country is an experience of a lifetime.
The Study Abroad office hopes that students who study abroad will return able to demonstrate “intercultural sensitivity, civic engagement, and social responsibility” that will help them in their postgraduate or professional goals. Studying abroad is a worthwhile experience for any student who wants to learn and immerse themselves in a new environment. As the Bear community copes with the pandemic, students can be more grateful for their time to learn through a study abroad program.