The University of Tampa’s Office of International Programs is moving forward with its 2021-2022 study abroad courses as global COVID-19 travel regulations continue to change.
UT has organized 16 professor-led programs across 14 countries including, a biology trip to Belgium and France, a global health trip to Thailand, and a marketing trip to Peru.
Currently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) classifies seven of the countries involved in UT’s study abroad programs as being at a high-risk assessment level for COVID-19. Furthermore, the CDC recommends that even vaccinated individuals avoid travel to these countries.
“We look to see what the numbers are in each country on a weekly basis,” said AnneLiese Busch, associate dean of international programs. “Those recommendations are in place for what’s happening right now, so as we start getting closer to when those trips would be departing, we will be reassessing.”
On Friday, Sept. 10, the Office of International Programs held a study abroad fair to promote the trips. UT has also encouraged the programs on their website and Instagram page.
Biology and pre-med major, Sofia Cuello heard about the Thailand program during her freshman orientation week this August.
“Going into college, I knew that I was very interested in studying abroad and through the many resources that UT has, such as the fairs at the Week of Welcome, I was exposed to all of the different opportunities,” said Cuello.
UT has been attempting to appease students who want to have the opportunity to study abroad.
“We’ve seen there is a lot of demand from the students to be able to have an international experience,” said Busch.“We want to make sure that we’re meeting that demand and encourage students that there are ways to travel safely.”
Responses to COVID-19 vary globally, however, the CDC recommends that all international travelers get vaccinated. With unpredictable travel regulations, UT is prepared for the possibility that countries could close their borders to international travelers.
The International Student Offices have built flexibility into their programs.
“If a trip is no longer feasible we will work with our provider as we have very specific contracts regarding when a trip can be canceled and refunds can be given,” said Busch.
One of the programs being offered is in Belgium and France for Fermentation Microbiology.
“Sending students to Belgium would be a great opportunity,” said Jordan Jacques, Belgian class of 2021 alumnus. “We are definitely taking COVID-19 seriously and I don’t think students are in danger health-wise.”
Even when vaccinated, international travelers risk spreading and contracting COVID-19. In addition to following mandatory travel regulations decided by each country, the CDC recommends that travelers take additional precautions upon arrival such as wearing a mask.
According to Jacques, due to the Belgian travel regulations he doesn’t feel that there is a huge risk of students spreading COVID-19 in the country.
The Thailand program includes a community health practicum that will take place in a small village.
“As people from the US, we should make it a priority to make sure that we are being safe and aren’t a threat to the health of these communities that we are trying to help,” said Cuello. “We can’t cause more harm than good.”
Photo courtesy of UT’s website.