International education prepares for in-person and virtual experiences
written by: Josephine Pyles, Staff writer
In the midst of COVID-19, traveling abroad seems like a distant opportunity for most. As the uncertainty of the pandemic unfolds, studying abroad has been a relevant question for administrators and students alike. At Xavier, the Center for International Education (CIE) has been working to provide safe travel opportunities for students, ideally in the spring of 2021.
As a past Xavier student, Leann Scherbaur has a great deal of experience studying abroad. Now, as the Assistant Director of the Center for International Education, she wants to help guide students through the same unique experience.
“I was a German Major, so I convinced my parents to let me go abroad for a year in Germany, which was really awesome,” Scherbaur said. “So the experience really depends on what the student is specifically looking for.”
Travel restrictions are constantly changing along with the pandemic, but Scherbaur says many of Xavier’s partner schools have been very accommodating to these novel circumstances.
“Some have a special quarantine space if that’s necessary,” Scherbaur said. “And if you do need to quarantine upon arrival, they would be able to get all of your meals and other essential things.”
Many of these programs have alternative housing options as well. When necessary, students studying abroad will have access to medical care.
“I know that many of our partners are going to have single room options,” Scherbaur said. “And our health insurance would still give students access to a doctor when needed.”
For programs that are welcoming international students in the spring, Scherbaur says that the process will vary depending on the country. “Students would have to go through a petition process based on our travel policy,” she said. “It will also be determined further down the line if the country has access restrictions for noncitizens.”
But with travelling protocols constantly changing, there is a possibility these programs could be cancelled. “If a program got cancelled last minute, students would most likely have to reapply so programs can make sure they’re still interested,” Scherbaur said. “And for the Xavier application, we can potentially defer it to the next term, as long as that term is open.”
Despite many programs still welcoming international students, some partner universities have opted for virtual study abroad experiences. In this case, students will remain at Xavier but attend international classes virtually.
“Some programs like Australia have informed us that they’ve chosen to be virtual in the spring,” Scherbaur said. “So for those students, they know that they unfortunately wouldn’t actually be going to Australia from here.”
As far as pricing is concerned, students would still be paying the same amount for these virtual experiences. “It would be the same cost as being here on campus,” Scherbaur said. “So it depends on if students are still interested in a virtual experience, for the cost of Xavier’s tuition.”
The time difference is also a factor to consider with virtual programs. “You can say that you still get to learn about a different academic system,” Scherbaur said. “But at the same time, you could be getting up at three am to catch your courses online.”
However, these options won’t apply for the winter of 2020. “Unfortunately, winter break opportunities aren’t going to be available this year,” Scherbaur said. “But I would say register early for the virtual study abroad fair to get more information about spring programs.”
The virtual study abroad fair is October 13. You can also set up an appointment with Leann Scherbaur in GSC 203 for more information. Or follow the Center for International Education’s Instagram @xuinternational or their Facebook page ‘Xavier International.’