The USF Education Abroad Office will offer more programs in 2022 and expects to return to pre-pandemic student participation rates gradually.
More programs are available in 2022, with 42 being offered over summer and about 54 in the fall semester. Associate Director of the Education Abroad Office Jim Pulos said students have roughly the same number of options as in previous years among faculty-led, affiliate and exchange partnerships in countries across Europe, Asia and the Caribbean.
“[The locations available for students to study abroad] is an ever-changing list, but you know the world is opening back up, so if you go to our website, you can find all of our programs that we are intending on offering for the coming term,” Assistant Director of Student Services Christopher Haynes said.
A limited number of students were sent to study abroad in 2020, according to Pulos. He said the program had approximately 190 students in the 2020-21 academic year, while in 2019-20, there were about 1,870 students.
In 2020-21, fewer students participated in the USF’s study abroad program due to COVID-19, which only had seven approved trips for the past summer.
There were 153 students who enrolled in faculty-led programs in Italy, Curaçao, Romania and the Galápagos Islands. In addition, students participated in the exchange and affiliate programming in South Korea, Spain, Germany and Costa Rica, according to Pulos.
Although the number of students participating in the study abroad program is not at the same level as before COVID-19, Haynes said he expects participants to gradually return to average rates.
“I think it is going to be a slow transition back to ‘normal,’” Haynes said. “We are all tip-toeing back into this. We want to make sure students feel comfortable while they are abroad and that they are going to maximize their experience while overseas.”
To assist students in navigating travel abroad options, the Education Abroad Office has walk-in and virtual advising appointments and information sessions available.
“Our main message out of [the Global Student Hub] is that study abroad is back, and we highly encourage students to apply to all of our programs that are intended to be offered. [We are] accepting applications for primarily summer, and we’re even starting recruitment for fall,” Haynes said.
With COVID-19 and general traveling protocols, some steps should be followed, including the destination’s vaccination requirement. Although USF doesn’t require a vaccine for studying abroad, many host countries require vaccination to enter, use certain facilities or utilize public transportation, among others.
“The Education Abroad office strongly encourages vaccination for all international travelers. Entry requirements [and] COVID vaccination and testing change frequently and quickly,” Pulos said. “A country that is currently not requiring vaccination may require it in the very near future and without warning.”
Passports are taking about eight to 11 weeks to process, according to the U.S. Department of State’s website. Due to the long wait, students who plan to study abroad should apply for one as soon as possible to avoid delays, Pulos said.
“If a student does not have a passport and they are thinking about going abroad, they should apply now,” he said. “Some experiences, generally longer-term programs, also require a visa for entry, and in order to apply for a visa, generally six to eight weeks prior to travel, one has to have a valid passport.”
As more study abroad programs are being brought back, Haynes said the opportunities can be beneficial for students’ future careers.
“We want to provide the global component where students can learn how to problem-solve, communicate across cultures and all of the other benefits that coincide with studying abroad,” Haynes said.