Opinion: Studying abroad during a pandemic is a great opportunity for students

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Studying abroad is an opportunity most students look forward to taking advantage of. Unfortunately, in the midst of a global pandemic, this opportunity has been taken away from many students. 

However, Suffolk University decided to continue with its study abroad program for the spring semester. The chance to study abroad is a good idea that all universities should offer during the upcoming semester. Suffolk made the right choice to provide this opportunity because it gives students a sense of normalcy and will allow them to do what they have wanted to. 

The university will run the program with some safety limitations. According to Suffolk University’s International Programs and Services office, Suffolk will only be offering programs in four locations next semester: Madrid, Ireland, England and South Korea. 

According to the director of International Programs and Services at Suffolk, Gregory Jabaut, these locations are following similar testing schedules and public safety guidelines as our campus in Boston. The government leaders in these countries have also been enforcing strict restrictions since COVID-19

I have always wanted the chance to study abroad and the opportunities Suffolk offers for it was one of the reasons why I decided to attend.

Traveling may raise more of a risk during this time, however, it would provide a whole new experience for students. They would be able to see and learn from a different perspective of handling the pandemic and how other citizens are following guidelines. 

Spain, for example, has contained and controlled the virus more successfully than our country, according to Reuters. The country’s overall COVID-19 case numbers have been lower. Seeing how other countries are handling the coronavirus could give insight to students who are studying there. Studying in a country where everything is much more controlled may teach students how they can make a difference in stopping the spread in the United States. 

To ensure the safety of all Suffolk students and faculty traveling abroad next semester, Suffolk should prepare for a potential increase in infection rates. According to Jabaut, Suffolk has different plans in case this occurs. He stated that the abroad universities have made remote learning plans as well. 

Suffolk also plans to change the Global Gateway Program to be virtual this year if travel is banned to Spain, or they will offer this program to sophomores next year as well. 

I think with these precautions in place, Suffolk and other Boston universities are in a good place to continue forward with their study abroad programs next semester. 

Follow Samantha on Twitter @samhbailey.