By: Charlotte Mayer
SMCM’s Office of International Education hosted a Virtual Study Abroad Fair on Thursday, Sept. 23. This event included “lightning round sessions with special guests joining live from around the world,” according to InsideSMCM. Students were able to join at different times throughout the day to ask specific questions to the school’s program partners, using the Zoom link posted on InsideSMCM.
Guests were from places such as Australia, Ireland, England, Slovenia, Spain, France, Bangkok, Thailand, Italy, Costa Rica, Cuba, Morocco, Ecuador and more.
Annilee Hampton, a sophomore at SMCM, visited the sessions for James Cook University in Australia and University College Dublin in Ireland.“I enjoyed that one a lot,” she said about James Cook University’s session. “It had good information. It made me a lot more enthusiastic about study abroad.” She is planning on studying abroad in Spring 2023. “Either Australia, Ireland, or England,” she says. Her two majors are English and Theater, Film, and Media Studies.
SMCM sophomore Melissa LaCross did not go to the Study Abroad Fair because she had class during the session she wanted to attend. Despite this, she says “I can’t wait to travel abroad my junior year!”
Not everyone shares this enthusiasm. When asked if he would like to study abroad, SMCM sophomore Rob Kearns said: “Not really. Change stresses me out and I’d miss my friends.”
Drew Seitzman, another sophomore, says “It’s hard to schedule study abroad for STEM majors because a certain amount of classes have to be upper division and on campus.”
Aurora Margarita-Goldkamp, the Director of International Education at SMCM, says “I’ll be honest; the pandemic has severely impacted study abroad in the past year and a half, and it has been tough! However, health and safety is our absolute top priority and we have to limit risk for our students, as study abroad is a very independent experience. We have been carefully assessing several factors to make a decision to gradually reopen our programs for Fall 21, Spring 22, and beyond.”
“We analyze programs for their level of support on-site, COVID-19 rates and local risk mitigation, host country entry requirements and if borders will be open for students in time, the level of academic need for students, and more, before supporting student applications to specific programs.”
“Though we are opening up slowly for study abroad again,” she says, “we acknowledge that the pandemic will still impact study abroad in the near future and any applicants for Spring 22 especially will need to do their own research about their destination, and make their own decisions about their risk tolerance for studying abroad during a pandemic.”
The Office of International Education is available to help students research their program options. They can make an appointment with the Office through their website.
“We encourage students to keep their eyes on the Department of State Travel Level Advisories, the CDC and WHO information about traveling abroad, to make sure they are vaccinated, and advise them to purchase their own travel insurance (which is on top of the SMCM international health insurance we enroll all study abroad students in during semester programs).”
She adds that “passports are taking 16 weeks to process” and that “passports, and often student visas, are needed for semester-long study abroad. Students applying for Spring (and summer) programs will need to make sure they have an active passport in hand.”
The application deadline for Spring 2022 is October 15. For more information on programs and policies, visit the SMCM website or email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.