The Northwest Study Abroad Office has opened applications for fall 2021 and spring 2022 programs after having to cancel trips for last semester, this spring semester and the approaching summer.
Decisions to cancel fall trips were made toward the end of last spring when the coronavirus first started to hit the United States. Cancellations for this spring were made right before winter break, and decisions about the summer were made in January.
Director of Study Abroad Philip Hull discussed why they waited to make a decision about spring and summer travel.
“We decided if anything changes in terms of COVID-19 and things miraculously loosen up, we didn’t want to pull back prematurely,” Hull said.
Hull said making a decision in January allowed for no financial repercussions since application and deposit deadlines were originally set for later in the month.
The office has started moving forward with receiving nominations from partner schools overseas for exchange students to come to Northwest and has received a few applications for travel next spring from students at Northwest.
Hull said the Study Abroad Office is still staying vigilant with the virus and keeping track of any changes that could affect travel. They’re watching what other schools are doing regarding the virus and what next semester will look like.
Two resources Hull uses to stay updated are the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website and the U.S. Department of State website, which the office relies on with or without a pandemic to track travel internationally.
The CDC website encourages people not to travel during the pandemic but states that if you need to travel, a mask is required, and travelers coming to the U.S. must have a negative coronavirus test before boarding the plane.
The website also includes a list of countries and their COVID-19 travel risk, which ranges from very high risk to low risk.
Despite current travel risks, Hull stated he would rather move forward with study abroad plans now than wait too long or cancel too early.
“If we don’t do the work to prepare students now, then it’s going to be too late to really get students engaged and get enough applicants,” Hull said.
Hull would rather have students sign up to travel and cancel later than not do anything at all.
Hull expressed that he felt a sense of optimism about moving forward, not just in the U.S. and at Northwest, but across the globe. He said that study abroad will continue with plans to travel next fall.
“I think there’s also a healthy dose of caution, not the kind that makes you scared, but where you get to the point of working at a steady pace,” Hull said.