CISABROAD BLOG · January 29, 2021 · 4 Min Read
You’re Not Alone | Choosing to Study Abroad during COVID

As an industry operating in global travel we have seen our fair share of pandemics. Through SARS, ZIKA, H1N1 (aka Swine Flu), and now Covid-19, international education always finds a way. Did you know, students continued to study abroad during each of the pandemics over the past 20 years? We should also point out that our industry has grown after every pandemic listed above. So now that you know you are not alone in choosing to study abroad during COVID times, let’s discuss a few tips on what you should consider as you prepare for the best experience of your life! Here are some pointers to help in choosing a study abroad program.

This is a photo of 7 masked students standing in front of a waterfall in Costa Rica.
CIS Abroad’s Spring 2021 cohort in Costa Rica

Stay the course

Like the students before you who would not let a pandemic stand in their way, keep your eyes on the prize. When students and parents ask us when study abroad will reopen, our response is simple, it has never closed. Students have been successfully studying abroad this entire time.

Be Flexible

This is a great tip regardless if there is a pandemic happening. One of the greatest skillsets gained from studying abroad is your ability to “roll with the punches.” From flight delays, to language barriers and cultural differences, as a study abroad student everything will take extra patience and flexibility. Simple things such as ordering a cup of coffee will take longer as you figure out how to do so in your new home.

Given the impacts of Covid-19, your flexibility will be put to the test before you even depart (and we don’t mean during your daily yoga.) As every country will have their own limitations and responses to the pandemic, new information will become available constantly. The courses you wish to take may no longer be available, or may now be remote. The destination you so desperately wanted to travel to may now be in a lockdown. This is where solid academic plans (and back up plans) will come into play, so have those ready more than ever before!

Connect with locals and other expats

As information is shared and distributed, it’s important to connect often with locals in that area. How are they feeling, what is life like? We’ve become such a connected world it’s often easy to locate an expat (US citizen living abroad) social media groups in the city where you will be traveling to. They may have more insight than the day to day news cycle. You can also learn a great deal from the experiences of our study abroad alumni. Read through their blog posts or better yet, ask if you can contact study abroad alumni directly about questions you may have.

A masked student posing near the water on a sunny day in Limerick, Ireland
University of Alabama – Huntsville’s Rob Womack sight seeing this past Fall in Limerick, Ireland.

Share your journey

It’s likely that fewer study abroad students will be at your host institution or on-site in your location. Many will wish they had your confidence. Keep a journal or start a blog to share how you were able to respectfully and responsibly travel at this time. It’s your time to shine.

For many, studying abroad is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Although it is very likely you will have the chance to travel again, being a student overseas is an experience that only comes around a few times in life. The pandemic isn’t stopping us from studying abroad, it’s simply changing how we study abroad. Adapting to change is a lesson we all learn when going abroad and one we carry with us as we adventure on through life.  We can’t wait to follow along in your journey!  So go on, the world is waiting. You can definitely choose to study abroad during COVID


Ready to go abroad in 2021? Take a look at our open Summer and Fall programs!

On the CIS Abroad blog, we share student-written content and information for students, advisors, other study abroad professionals, and families of students studying abroad. Check out our Facebook and Instagram for more from us and our students!