UT-Austin students apply for spring 2021 study abroad programs despite pandemic

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Photo Credit: Destiny Alexander | Daily Texan Staff

UT will allow study abroad programs to take place in the spring semester, according to Education Abroad.

Heather Thompson, director of Education Abroad, said Texas Global will continue to monitor the pandemic carefully and is prepared to adjust proactively for any contingency. According to the Texas Global website, recruiting for Maymesters and summer programs is ongoing, and Texas Global will make a final decision about programs March 12, 2021.

“We anticipate that program costs for 2021 will remain about the same,” Thompson said. “As we advise students to prepare for participation in 2021 programs, we are focused on supporting students’ safety, academic continuity and financial challenges, as we do invariably under usual circumstances.”

This year, Texas Global refunded the $500 reciprocal exchange fee to students if they withdrew before they left for the program, Thompson said. 

Devin Walker, director of global leadership and social impact for the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement, said he wouldn’t promote study abroad programs if Texas Global didn’t offer to refund the $500 reciprocal exchange fee.

“Texas Global … decided to refund the students all of their money, and they took a big financial hit, but they did the right thing,” Walker said. 

Walker said the pandemic highlights how important having global awareness is.

 

“It’s the importance of highlighting for students global awareness, global fluency and a global skill set,” Walker said. “In the middle of a global pandemic, I think it’s highlighting how small the world really is and how interconnected the world truly is.”

Sydney Svagerko, an international relations and global studies sophomore, said she is applying for a semester-long study abroad program in France because the school aligns with her major.

Svagerko said she hopes her time in France will help her live her dream of working and living in France.

“I have a real interest in helping people work across borders and in helping other people connect with each other and helping connect the world in a way that benefits the people who need it,” Svagerko said.

Despite the uncertainty of the pandemic, Svagerko said at some point she will need to go abroad for her major and is less worried about getting COVID-19 since her mom is a health care professional.

“I’m reasonably cautious,” Svagerko said. “I still isolate myself, I’m at home this semester and I wear a mask whenever I go out. I’m not as worried about getting COVID-19 because I would probably get it from (my mom) if I do.”

Biomedical engineering sophomore Anthony Page said he is thinking of going abroad to Australia in order to complete a communications credit that is required for him to graduate. 

“Everything is up in the air, obviously, due to the pandemic,” Page said. “As of right now, the Australian borders are closed, so they don’t know when they are going to be opening yet. It could be mid-2021 … I’m probably going to still apply, but it’s subject to change.”