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Monday, December 5, 2022

Global Learning Hub relaunches summer study abroad programs 

Students and professor share their experiences studying abroad amidst COVID-19 pandemic

 

By KRISTIN TRENT — campus@theaggie.org

 

Beginning in summer 2022, the Global Learning Hub (GLH) resumed its first full offering of summer programs after a hiatus from sending students abroad during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

According to an interview with the GLH, the decision to resume study abroad programs was not taken lightly. With consultation from numerous health organizations and UC Health partners, they developed protocols for risk mitigation, testing, care and operational contingencies in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak in a study abroad location. 

Fourth-year sociology major Lo Bellard said that she was nervous about the risk of contracting COVID-19 while studying abroad but did not end up getting sick on the trip.

Fourth-year psychology major Gavin Bowen, however, did contract COVID-19 abroad. 

Bowen said via email that he tested positive for COVID-19 two days before the end of his study abroad program in Scotland and experienced complications traveling back home as a result.

Bowen’s airline required an official test from a pharmacy in order to delay his flight without financial repercussions, so he said that he contacted more than 10 pharmacies in the attempt to acquire an official test. 

Because no locations had any appointments before his flight, and store-bought tests were not accepted by aircraft carriers, Bowen said that he had to travel back to the U.S. on his original flight date, COVID-positive and double-masked. 

“I had to choose between exposing others to [COVID] or paying for a plane ticket that I couldn’t afford,” Bowen said in an email. “I shouldn’t have had to make that choice.” 

David Masiel, a UC Davis professor for the University Writing Program who led the summer 2022 ‘In Search of Scotland’ journalism study abroad program in Edinburgh, said that during the four-week class, three out of his 22 students tested positive for COVID-19. Due to COVID exposures and positive cases in the program, the class shifted to hybrid instruction in the second week.

Masiel, who has been teaching the program since 2012, said that the changes to the longstanding program were made after talks with study abroad administrators in order to mitigate spread.

While course material on the Scotland program was the same as it was pre-pandemic, Maisel said that he had to adjust his itinerary due to staffing shortages at restaurants, services and attractions he attended with previous classes. 

Masiel’s summer 2022 class experienced a few new activities that previous years had not taken part in, including a Fantastic Beasts-themed treasure hunt around the city of Edinburgh. According to Masiel, trying new things that the group had not done in a normal year was a positive that came amid the modifications that had to be made to the trip. 

Reflecting on the trip, Masiel said that he is appreciative of his class’s resilience. 

“For all the talk of students being harmed by the pandemic, and I know plenty who have, I also sense that they’ve learned to adapt to the unexpected,” Masiel said. 

 

Written by: Kristin Trent — campus@theaggie.org