From Mexico to Morocco, CIE brings opportunities to explore new interests
By griffin Brammer and Grady Boris, Staff Writers
The Center for International Education (CIE) is encouraging students to consider studying abroad despite unique pandemic-driven challenges, as exemplified by the recommencement of the in-person study abroad fair last month.
Assistant Director for Education Abroad LeeAnn Scherbauer offered insight on what was available to students at the fair, in addition to tables offering an array of countries and programs.
“This was one of our signature events that allowed students to explore all of our study abroad programs in one place,” she said. “Students were able to meet with Xavier faculty who offer study abroad programs as well as learn about semester and short-term options run through partner universities.”
The fair outlined opportunities to travel to five continents, with Xavier faculty leading eight programs. Most programs offered are major-specific; however, study abroad programs are available to all students regardless of major to fill core curriculum requirements as well.
At the fair, the CIE introduced two new trips. A spring semester trip to Cuernavaca, Mexico for junior social work majors called “Social Work in a Latin American Context” will be offered through Augsburg University.
The second new program is a London-based trip for biology and biomedical science majors called “STEM in London” that will be provided through Arcadia Abroad. This program will last through the spring semester of students’ sophomore year. Both new study abroad trips will offer major-specific courses and elective courses.
Scherbauer expects more short-term programs to be announced in the future.
“The Education Abroad side of the Center for International Education supports students throughout the entire journey of the study abroad process,” Scherbauer said. “We interact with students initially through outreach activities and advising.”
The CIE also offers financial resources for students. The center offers information sessions and advisors for scholarships for trips abroad.
Madi Crickmer, a senior French and international studies double major, studied abroad last semester in Lyon, France.
During the planning phase, Crickmer worked with the CIE to make sure her trip went smoothly.
“(The CIE) was super helpful with everything. They definitely made everything a lot easier,” Crickmer said.
The CIE helped Crickmer set up her visa and ticketing. Scherbauer was also in contact with Crickmer while abroad, emailing biweekly check-ups to ensure that she was taken care of in France.
The CIE also helped Crickmer confirm that the trip was still happening due to COVID-19 complications.
“Honestly, I didn’t even think I would be able to go,” Crickmer said. “Two weeks after I got there, they completely shut down the border and wouldn’t let anyone in no matter what.”
“Many of the COVID-19 measures are dictated by the country of study rather than Xavier,” Scherbauer explained. Crickmer lived with several COVID-19 safety precautions while studying in France.
In addition to travel restrictions and face mask requirements, Crickmer also faced a 6 p.m. curfew that, if broken, resulted in a hefty fine.
Toward the final week of her trip, restrictions relaxed and Crickmer enjoyed her experience more. The curfew was moved from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. and was eventually removed, allowing Crickmer to enjoy Lyon more freely.
COVID-19 also impacted the education Crickmer received overseas.
“Normally, we would have outings to different cities and other areas of France. We weren’t allowed to do any of that,” Crickmer explained.
Her college in Lyon provided hybrid classes four days a week. Crickmer ultimately enjoyed her learning experience.
“You just kind of have to make the most of what it is,” Crickmer explained. “The school offered a lot of activities to try and get everyone (involved).”
Though she was not allowed to travel across France, Crickmer saw benefits of staying in Lyon.
She explored the city and familiarized herself with Lyon over the semester.
Despite COVID-19’s impact, Crickmer never reported feeling unsafe due to the pandemic. She noticed that vaccines were limited, and the locals were hesitant to adhere to mask guidelines.
Crickmer ultimately enjoyed her travel abroad experience and recommends it to students, despite possible COVID-19 enforcements. She believes her study abroad experience taught her to adapt to a new and extreme situation.
“Take the risk. Take the plunge. It might seem scary, overwhelming, but it’s 100% worth it,” she said.