Loyola’s Study Abroad Programs Start to Return to Normal

Maia Luem | The PhoenixRoughly 230 Loyola students are gearing up to study abroad next semester..

After three semesters of cancelled abroad programs and limited options for the fall, the spring 2022 abroad experience will be almost back to normal. 

Director of Loyola’s Study Abroad Programs Dr. Brian Johnson said he expects summer and fall 2022 programs to operate like pre-pandemic times.

When the pandemic hit in March 2020, students studying abroad frantically tried to get back home, and with a complete global shut down, many students had to cancel their study abroad plans altogether, The Phoenix reported.

During the fall 2021 semester, students could only go abroad to Loyola’s John Felice Rome Center (JFRC), which operated at a limited capacity with a shortened semester because of the delta variant surge this summer. Loyola’s Vietnam Center is still closed. 

Though the JFRC is still operating at a limited capacity for spring 2022, it approved more students than it did this semester.

Leslie Owen | The Phoenix

84 students went abroad to JFRC this semester, according to Loyola’s website. But Johnson said Loyola expects to send about 230 students abroad this spring, Johnson said. About 175 of those students will be going to the JFRC. The rest of the students are going to programs not affiliated with Loyola campuses. 

Johnson said roughly 15 programs are open for this spring, which is a big increase compared to just one this semester. 

In a normal year, Loyola typically sends approximately 900 students abroad – around  300 per fall, spring and summer semester.

 While the number of students going out this spring is just shy of a normal semester, Johnson expects all study abroad programs to be nearly back to normal in summer and fall 2022.

Leslie Owen | The Phoenix

“We have a couple of programs, very very few, where we’re evaluating the situation in the country and continue to evaluate the situation,” Johnson said. “All the other programs are green light. They’re going forward. The students are actually this week enrolling in their spring classes, getting their housing sorted out, things like that.” 

Lauren Pfluger, a second year studying business information systems and management, is  preparing to go to JFRC next semester. 

Pfluger said she first applied to Loyola’s Vietnam Center, which was cancelled. Afterwards she looked into going to Paris School of Business, but said she would’ve only been able to take two courses that counted towards her major and none towards core. 

She finally applied to study abroad in London, but that program was also cancelled. So now, she’s preparing for Rome. 

“I was excited to go to Vietnam, it was really exciting to do something different,” Pfluger said. “The partnerships they have with a Vietnamese college I was really invested in. But you know, things happen, at this point I’m just excited that I get to go in general.”

Pfluger said her work to get abroad was slightly different from other people’s process. Because she’s an honors student and French minor, she was limited to going abroad this semester. Plfuger said if she would’ve gone abroad next year she wouldn’t be able to take required honors courses that are offered only once a year, and thus would be behind academically. 

“My particular situation has been very chaotic,” Pfluger said. “As you just pile things on with requirements it just gets a tighter and tighter schedule to try and fit something like abroad in.”

Pfluger said that going abroad is one way to fulfill the global awareness credit required for business students, while international business students have a specific abroad only requirement. 

Johnson also explained that for some schools, going abroad can fulfill a student’s engaged learning requirements. 

Johnson said there are differences in going abroad now than pre-COVID times. For example, most countries require a negative COVID-19 test before boarding a plane. Students going to JFRC have to submit their U.S. vaccination cards to be approved for an EU Green Pass, which is required to do essentially anything in the country. 

Johnson also said students should prepare for restricted use of common areas on campus, such as closed lounges and study spaces. Additionally, some countries aren’t allowing travel once students arrive – for example the United Kingdom (UK) is requiring study abroad students to stay in the UK for the entirety of their semester. 

“Students really need to plan for, on the bright side, having a more in-depth experience in a smaller geographic area, in one country – rather than skimming the surface of lots and lots of countries,” Johnson said.  

Lily Falls, a junior Marketing major, is also going to JFRC in the spring. She originally applied to go Spring 2021, but had to push it back.

“I was lucky that my classes still worked out so I was able to push it back a year,” Falls, 20, said.

Falls said she anticipated her original study abroad plans getting cancelled, but it still was a “bummer.” Because she anticipated it, she was able to take her major courses her sophomore years to save core classes for Rome. Like Pfluger, going abroad also fulfills Falls global awareness requirement. 

She said her process with reapplying for next semester has been smooth. 

“I knew that I wanted to go abroad for a while now, so I’ve kind of known what I have to do for a while,” Falls said. 

Falls said going abroad has always been something she’s always wanted to do, especially since she hasn’t left the country before. 

“For so long I’ve been like ‘oh I’m going abroad, I’m going abroad’ and now it’s happening in a little over two months,” Falls said. “It’s finally becoming real.”

Johnson said there are a few other differences in going abroad now than pre-pandemic – mostly bureaucratic issues. He said visas and passports are taking nearly twice as long to obtain, likely due to low staffing at embassies as people work from home or couldn’t return to work at all. 

Pfluger experienced these issues with getting her visa. She said she couldn’t get an appointment and decided to get it notarized in the states on her own and will mail it to Rome. 

He said programs are still about two and a half months away from beginning, so modifications to any requirements could still change. 

“[In] my professional opinion, summer and fall 2022 we’re going to be very close to back to normal, as far as the total number of students that we can send and the number of places we can send students to,” Johnson said. “I’m really looking forward to continuing to ramp things back up, and really looking forward to being able to send students abroad to just about everywhere we usually do.”

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