While on-campus students began the spring semester adjusting to Zoom classes, grab-and-go meals and chilly January temperatures, over 100 students studying away this semester were dusting off their travel guides and practicing their “Bonjour!” or “Ciao!” as they packed their suitcases for the next four months.
Students who were set to study abroad in the fall of 2021 have had a tumultuous few weeks. Following the U.S. Department of State’s (DOS) decision to merge its travel advisories with those set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), these students were notified during the first round of course registration that, if they were traveling to a country that the DOS had just categorized as Level 4, they were strongly encouraged to withdraw from their prospective study abroad status with Bowdoin and register for courses.
After spending much of the past year away from campus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, students are reconsidering their plans to study off campus during the 2021-22 academic year. The Office of Off-Campus Study received fewer applications for study away this year than in previous years, with a majority of applications being for the spring semester rather than for the fall.
Although the COVID-19 world can sometimes make us feel isolated, the pandemic has also forced us to recognize our role as part of a global environment and reinforced the importance of cross-cultural communication and collaboration. One lesson learned from the pandemic should be the essential role of study abroad.
In addition to transforming life on campus, COVID-19 has complicated the plans of students who were intending to study off campus during the 2020-21 school year. Only 15 of the 29 students who, as of this past fall, intended to study off-campus were able to, three of whom are studying with domestic programs while the rest are at various institutions in the United Kingdom.
The Office of Off-Campus Study (OCS) is allowing 29 students to study away next semester, significantly more than the five that did so this fall, but small in comparison to the 130 to 160 students that study away in a typical semester.
In a few months, some students will be getting on planes and heading across the Atlantic, foregoing the snowy quad for a spring semester abroad like no other.
These students will face the challenges presented by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic outside of the Bowdoin bubble.
In an email sent on Wednesday evening, the Office of Off-Campus Study (OCS) announced that it would allow students to study abroad during the spring semester, with limitations. This decision came after all off-campus study was suspended for the fall semester.