Study abroad programs are flexible to uncertain future of safe travel

City+College%27s+study+abroad+department+had+to+cancel+all+programs+for+the+2020-2021+school+year+but+will+continue+on+with+new+programs+in+the+fall.+Courtesy+Images+of+the+Rome%2C+Ireland%2C+Australia%2C+Germany%2C+and+London+City+College+Study+abrod+programs+in+2021+and+2022.

City College’s study abroad department had to cancel all programs for the 2020-2021 school year but will continue on with new programs in the fall. Courtesy Images of the Rome, Ireland, Australia, Germany, and London City College Study abrod programs in 2021 and 2022.

Leah Dautoff, Staff Writer

City College’s study abroad department postponed this year’s summer programs but is moving forward with their fall program in London with the knowledge that adjustments may be made. 

“These decisions are determined by payment deadlines,” Dean of International Programs, Carola Smith said.

Final decisions are made before nonrefundable deposits are due to help keep students from losing their money. 

“We will err on the side of caution and only move forward with programs if we feel we can safely offer the program and not have to cancel,” Smith said

A group of students who took part in the program in Italy got sent home early last February when the pandemic hit. All programs have since been suspended. 

Study abroad programs offer students the ability to experience international travel while advancing their education. 

“We often have students that say they looked at Santa Barbara City College because they heard about the study abroad programs,” Study Abroad Senior Program Assistant, Nicole Walther said.

When traveling became more restricted and deemed unsafe, it forced the travel abroad program team to find a way to inspire wanderlust in students from home.

“This past year, the biggest challenge has just been to keep going,” Walther said. The department pushed back their programs for a year due to the cancellation of the past summer, fall, and winter programs.

Smith said students who are looking into the fall program should make backup plans, do lots of risk assessment, be flexible, open-minded and aware of the strong likelihood plans will change, 

The department is eager for travel to be safe again so students can benefit from their international programs,  Smith said.

“Students gain a certain level of intercultural sensitivity and competence that is super important in today’s world,” Smith said. “If students can manage to be alone in a foreign country, they return with a new sense of self-confidence that they could tackle anything.”

Even with the impact COVID-19 has had on the travel industry, she is confident there will be a tremendous interest in travel when restrictions are lifted.

“I think there will be modifications to how we travel,” said Smith. “But there is definitely going to be a demand for travel.”