Virtually no students were able to study at different campuses during the 2020-2021 academic year. However, Webster is hopeful that Study Abroad options will return next fall.
After a year of battling the pandemic, Webster University is hopeful that normal operations of its Study Abroad program will resume in fall 2021.
“We’re now to the point where hopefully we can see light at the end of the tunnel,” Webster Study Abroad adviser Tyler Worlund said.
Back in spring 2020, students who were studying abroad for the semester were sent home early due to COVID-19 lockdowns. Since then, each term’s Study Abroad programs have been canceled, and students have not been able to take advantage of the travel opportunities the program offers.
“It did start to get a little more disheartening as time went on, to where sometime last summer we realized this isn’t going to be a problem that gets resolved soon,” Worlund said.
That sentiment stayed true throughout the 2020-2021 academic year. Almost no students have been able to study at a different Webster campus since the pandemic began, and none of those few students have studied overseas. Worlund said the Study Abroad office is “cautiously optimistic” about returning students to the seven different campuses Webster University has around the world. This optimism is, in part, because of the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccines and the extra time for the pandemic to settle.
Webster University’s primary goal is to educate global citizens. Between that mission statement, its diverse faculty and student body and Webster’s unique general education program known as the Global Citizenship Program, the Study Abroad office sits as the centerpiece.
“How are you gonna be a global citizen if you don’t go be global?” Kamryn Moore, peer adviser for the Study Abroad office, asked.
Worlund agreed, saying that being able to travel between campuses and experiencing different cultures is part of what makes Webster the university it is.
And once the opportunity to study abroad has returned to Webster, there are a plethora of takeaways the Study Abroad office hopes students will return with after choosing to travel.
Often, the Webster Study Abroad program gives students the chance to be truly independent for the first time or the opportunity to leave the country for the first time. Not only does the program aim to further progress students toward their selected major, but it also serves as a learning experience in and of itself.
“It’s so cheesy, but it gives you perspective about what’s going on in the world beyond your own backyard,” Moore said.
For student-athletes, or any student who finds that they don’t have the time in their schedule to spend an entire semester abroad, the Study Abroad office said not to worry. For these students, Moore recommends the faculty-led trips that take place during fall and spring break. These programs offer a week-long study under a faculty member at Webster University.
Moore attended one of these faculty-led programs in Costa Rica.
“People think that you don’t get to see the fun touristy stuff, but they do take it into consideration. When we were in Costa Rica, we were not studying the beach, but we all wanted to go to the beach. They try their best to plan stuff like that, too,” she said.
But in the midst of the 2020-2021 academic year, a new opportunity did open up for the Study Abroad office due to the pandemic.
“We have had some unique opportunities because of the pandemic, with switching everything remotely, now it is easier to hold an event with someone in Europe, Asia and Africa at the same time because we’re all virtual anyway. There are some virtual spaces for intercultural exchange,” Worlund said.
For students considering studying abroad in the fall of 2021 or beyond, both Worlund and Moore agree it is never too late to start planning.
“Webster is known for its Study Abroad program,” Moore says. “We have campuses all over the world so studying abroad is so easy for us. Language isn’t a barrier, [and] all your scholarships are accessible when you study abroad. The only thing that changes is housing.”
The deadline for applications for Study Abroad for fall 2021 is April 15, but the deadline for the fall 2021 faculty-led trips that take place over fall break is not until May 15.