Study abroad is back

Butler University junior Karoline Shannon talks with a representative from the Institute for Study Abroad (IFSA). The IFSA were one of the many providers for study abroad trips present at the Study Abroad Fair hosted in the Riley Room of Atherton Union on Oct. 5, 2021. Photo by Lucy McRoberts.

LILLY THUMM | STAFF REPORTER | lthumm@butler.edu

On Tuesday, Oct. 5, Butler’s Center for Global Education, CGE, held their annual Study Abroad Fair to allow students to meet with faculty or third-party providers who lead study abroad programs. 

Caitlin Moore, study abroad advisor and communications manager for the CGE, said the university currently has 35 students abroad this semester, but during a typical fall semester, they would have around 100 students abroad. Moore said a lot of students are waiting for a more typical abroad semester in the spring.

COVID-19 cancelled summer and fall semesters abroad in 2020, spring trips in 2021 and some summer 2021 programs. This fall, there were several new steps that went into studying abroad to keep students safe such as a vaccine requirement and PCR test, or rapid test depending on location.

Tarryn Harris, junior political science and international studies double major, is currently on the Butler Semester in Spain program. After facing program cancellations, Harris said she is glad to be abroad. 

“I applied to it my freshman year, so I was supposed to go in 2020,” Harris said. “And obviously [it getting cancelled] was devastating, but I think it’s really nice to be here now because a lot of people are in my program. We’ve all been waiting for a really long time, so it’s just kind of like a sigh of relief because we’re working here, and we’re doing it.”

Harris said that Spain has around a 75% vaccination rate and people wear their masks in public, but those are the only requirements. She said her host mom had to be vaccinated before she could accept anyone studying abroad.

As for spring and summer programs, Moore said the Delta variant could impact the future of study abroad.

“There is a campus committee that meets to discuss all things safety for our students that will continue to monitor anything COVID-related in addition to all other safety measures for students’ successful and healthy experiences abroad,” Moore said. “As of right now, we are planning for spring and summer semesters and requiring that all students must be vaccinated to study abroad.”

The Butler in Asia program is currently on track to happen this summer. Elise Edwards, professor of anthropology, history and classics, was supposed to lead the trip the past two summers. Edwards has also been involved in the GALA program for East Asia and traveled with students to Tokyo, Kyoto and Hiroshima. 

“I will be on the ground there with [students] … to help them become familiar with Tokyo, to [do] minimal, but some, light educational stuff to the view that I want to do, [and] travel with them to a variety of locations in Tokyo,” Edwards said.

Edwards said she has encountered many students who are uncertain about studying abroad because of so many factors such as finances and curriculum. However, she emphasized that Butler works hard to be flexible and get students the experiences they want, including those abroad. 

“To be apprehensive and a bit scared and fearful about what’s gonna happen, it’s completely normal,” Edwards said. “So it really is about pushing your boundaries a little bit, getting out of your comfort zone.” 

Study abroad applications are also open for the 2022 spring and summer sessions. Moore said the numbers for the spring semester are similar to those before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and they already have around 70 applicants. 

“At the end of their four years at Butler, we ask every single senior to fill out [a form],” Moore said. “They talk about their biggest regret and the thing that they most enjoyed doing, and for both of them, the answers were study abroad. So, if they didn’t study abroad, that’s their biggest regret. And if they did study abroad, that’s their favorite thing they did while they were here. That’s been a fact for the last however many years they’ve been doing that.”

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