Study abroad programs resume with adjustments

People sit near Tower Bridge in London. The London Centre Study Abroad is one of the few international study programs operating this semester. (AP Photo/Tony Hicks)

BYU study abroad programs have started up again amid the COVID-19 pandemic, prompting changes in comparison to how the programs have operated in the past.

The programs running this semester include the Arabic Language study abroad in Morocco, the BYU London Centre study abroad and the Spain study abroad. BYU also has students participating in shorter field trips to France, studying at Kyung Hee University in South Korea and attending internships in France and Italy, according to International Study Programs Director Lynn Elliot.

Elliott said the Kennedy Center’s main challenge has been in “minimizing the chances” of students and faculty facing health concerns abroad by keeping track of changing COVID-19 requirements.

“We have had to adapt to the changing environment,” Elliott said.

Spain study abroad director Rex Nielson said study abroad programs typically take months of preparation and planning, but because of the pandemic, the university waited longer to determine whether students could travel.

“We had to wait to make some of the arrangements that we normally would have made months earlier,” Nielson said.

Typically, students attending the London Centre study abroad visit Paris and can take week-long open-travel trips to various countries in Europe. Instead, this year, the London Centre has had to focus on just England and Scotland, London Centre program director Kerry Soper said.

“We have turned COVID-19 restrictions into a strength, focusing on quality over quantity,” Soper said.

Students attending the Arabic Flagship Capstone in Morocco and the annual fall semester Intensive Arabic Program, also in Morocco, are facing challenges as well. These include a country-wide curfew at 9 p.m. and possible fines for not wearing masks in public places, including on the streets, according to Kirk Belnap, director of both programs.

“Thankfully, students are in homestays and have all the access they could want for speaking Arabic,” Belnap said.

Students participating in international studies programs are remaining optimistic about what is to come amid the changes and adjustments they have had to make.

“I’m most excited for traveling outside of the city and visiting more rural areas in the countryside,” said Emma Soper, a junior studying at the London Centre.

Applications for Winter 2022 study abroad programs are now open.

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