UTA study abroad programs shift course following COVID-19 cancelations

Flags of countries that offer study abroad programs to UTA students sit on a table Jan. 31, 2018 in the University Center.

Broadcast communication senior Cecillia Nguyen was shocked when her summer study abroad trip was canceled, but she understands the need for precaution amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nguyen is interested in learning about different cultures and her trip to Japan would have helped her apply real-world situations to supplement what she has learned in her communication classes.

“With this pandemic, I think it will be a bit hard [to travel] because there’s still restrictions, and basically, our way of life has changed,” Nguyen said.

Since all study abroad programs have been suspended for the fall, the university is hopeful travel will resume in 2021, according to an email from Study Abroad director Kelli Anderson.

The study abroad application cycle for spring and winter 2021 is currently in progress and communication with applicants is ongoing. Decisions regarding the viability of travel in these semesters will likely be made later this fall.

“The university will continue to monitor relevant guidance and recommendations to assess the safety of future study abroad programs,” Anderson stated in the email.

Given the fluidity of the university’s COVID-19 response, prospective participants are advised to consider deadlines, refund and cancellation policies for airfare and program payments while monitoring relevant updates from UTA Study Abroad.

UTA Study Abroad is collaborating with campus partners to develop a series of events this fall, to be held on campus or virtually for students.

Funding opportunities have been paused for UTA faculty and students who wish to travel abroad for research and cultural exchange programs, according to an email from the Charles T. McDowell Center for Critical Languages and Area Studies.

Although university travel has been suspended, the center encourages students to participate in new opportunities and programs for global engagement on campus during the fall.

Broadcast specialist LaDonna Aiken said students from all majors were originally going to Japan this summer until the cancellations began.

Aiken said the trip was a way for students to enhance their educational experience but she hopes things will go back to being relatively normal soon.

“I think [students are] missing out on that experience that helps them see the world from a different perspective [and] helps them look outside of themselves to see a different way of life, of culture, of communicating,” Aiken said. “It really broadens their perspective and I think it helps them to compete in a very diverse society.”

Despite the cancellations, Nguyen encourages all students to participate in a study abroad trip at some point in the future.

“I feel like it’s a really good experience to just be independent and learning in a different environment,” Nguyen said.

@david___a23

news-editor.shorthorn@uta.edu

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