International travel as Delta variant risk rises

Butler’s Center for Global Education. Photo courtesy of butler.edu. 

RYANN BAHNLINE | STAFF REPORTER | rbahnline@butler.edu

With some relaxation of Covid-19 guidelines, Butler University is back in full swing. For some Butler students this means the reintegration of study abroad programs into their academic plans. However, the acceleration of the Delta variant could affect the students’ plans. 

For Kaitlyn Rines, a junior management information systems and Spanish double major, who is traveling to Spain, some of her concerns have been put to ease. Rines said she has always wanted to travel to Spain, and she was able to take a deep breath learning that Spain’s COVID-19 guidelines are similar to those at Butler. Rines is fully vaccinated, however, she still has to be mindful about where she travels, as new countries are being added to the CDC’s “red list.” 

Mary Griffin, a junior multilingual major, said she was concerned with whether she was even going to be able to go to Spain. Griffin said the random waves of anxiety that came with making plans were one of the hardest parts of her process. 

“I had been super unsure until a couple weeks ago,” Griffin said. “[I feel better] now with all the high vaccination rates.”

Griffin said she wanted to focus on what she could control. 

When it comes to first-year students who may have some curiosity about studying abroad, both Griffin and Rines said the biggest part about going abroad is just putting yourself out there. They advise students to get started as early as they can and to take it one step at a time and not worry about uncontrollable events in the future. Both said to not be afraid of new situations and risks and to not be afraid to look for something completely different and out of your comfort zone. 

Another Butler student, first-year marketing major Henri Kumwanda, recently jumped out of his comfort zone to come to Butler. Kumwanda has traveled from his home in London to play for Butler’s soccer team and attend as a student. 

“The adjustment was tough at first, however, there are a bunch of lads on the team who have helped with the adjustment,” Kumwanda said. 

Kumwanda said the community at Butler has made the change easier and allowed for him to explore his new environment and have new experiences. 

Butler students also have a community to assist with international travel. Visiting the Global Engagement Center, GEC, located in Jordan Hall, is the first step for many students who have or are planning to study abroad. Rines said the GEC was one of the best resources for her study abroad questions. 

As Rines knew she had always wanted to go to Spain, she sought information regarding the necessary course requirements, so she could get ahead on obtaining her visa and other documentation. Rines has decided on a group study program and will be working as a business intern in Spain. As a Spanish major, Rines said she seeks to immerse herself within the culture and language of Spain to truly advance her learning. 

“I’ve been speaking to my host family and trying to come up with some dishes we can make together to help me learn about culture,” Rines said. 

Similarly, Griffin said she is also seeking out different methods of exploration before her study abroad trip. Although Griffin has stayed with a host family on a previous trip abroad, she is turning to the internet to explore. Griffin said the internet has been a great tool for her to find experiences and different cultural events in Spain, since she will have a lot of time to fill in her full-year abroad. 

“I used Google maps a lot to go onto street view and actually ‘walk’ around the streets and explore a bit,” Griffin said. 

While Griffin is thankful for the connections she has from previous trips, she is excited to explore on her own and be immersed in Spanish culture. 

No matter what step in the study abroad process a student is at, the Global Engagement Center has assistance available. The GEC has lots of information regarding study abroad on their website or you can find information on upcoming meetings and events on their Instagram page

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