Visa Crunch

International Students Should Take Advantage Of Study Abroad Opportunities As Programs Reopen

Before the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, the Association of International Educators estimated that almost 350,000 American students were studying in a foreign nation.

This included many Louisiana State University (LSU) students who took advantage of the university’s Academic Programs Abroad to experience new cultures and diversify their education. The near 400 unique programs the university shares with foreign institutions is a real achievement that marks the university as a hub for connections and influence across the globe.

Funding opportunities like the Gilman Scholarship and others make these connections accessible to individuals from a variety of backgrounds and create once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to see the world.

I arrived at university the semester before the pandemic hit and hoped to eventually find a suitable study abroad program in Japan. The thought of experiencing the nation’s culture firsthand, studying Japanese literature and taking kendo classes had captured my fascination for some time.

But in March 2020, Covid-19 shut down international travel and, with it, international exchange programs. The pandemic immediately dampened the hopes of LSU students who planned to study abroad. My own dreams to see Japan seemed suddenly out of reach.

I am now approaching the end of my junior year and have already missed the most popular periods for studying abroad. In a few short semesters, my class of 2023 will graduate, and the opportunity to experience an international education may be gone forever.

Thankfully, hope is not yet lost. The university’s Academic Programs Abroad announced the re-opening of its travel routes at the beginning of the spring 2022 semester. Many foreign nations are beginning to allow American students back to their universities. Even Japan widened its channels for foreign travellers from 3,500 a day to 5,000 beginning March 1.

This is not to say that study abroad opportunities are back to normal. Testing and vaccination requirements still complicate international travel, and only a portion of our 400 programs have returned in full. Still, signs of reopening from the university administration and foreign governments provide hope that distant lands could soon be on the horizon for students.

Students who are interested in studying abroad should begin investigating their options as soon as possible. Study abroad advisors are available for meetings at any time, and the university’s website allows students to search for programs tailored to their academic and personal interests.

Maybe you’re like me, a junior with only a short time left here at LSU, or maybe you’re a freshman or sophomore with plenty of time ahead of you. Either way, you don’t want to look back on your time at the university and regret missing a chance to see the world.

Covid-19 interrupted both our personal and academic lives, but easing restrictions give students the chance to begin a post-pandemic era of international education and experiences.

Legal Disclaimer: This article is provided for information purposes only.

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