With study abroad programs being canceled for almost two years in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, students going abroad in 2022 are dealing with the new normal that has accompanied the pandemic, all while adjusting to living in a different country.
Each semester, students can choose to branch out from Ithaca and approach their education from a new perspective: by studying abroad in one of Cornell’s 350+ affiliate study abroad programs in over 70 countries such as Spain, Denmark, Australia, Italy, and South Korea.
Snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef, skydiving on Mission Beach, seeing a light show in the Sydney Harbour and partaking in coastal walks are just a few of the experiences Allison Lee ’25 has had this summer while studying abroad in Australia.
Lee, an Applied Economics and Management major in the Dyson School of Business, is currently studying abroad at the University of Sydney as part of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Global Fellows Program.
The CALS Global Fellows Program places CALS students in a 7-8 week internship or research position “in an international setting”. Students must take a prerequisite course, ALS 2300, and a post requisite course, ALS 2301, to fulfill the program requirements. Students also receive a stipend during the time they are abroad to offset living costs during their internships.
Meghan Joon ’23, also an Applied Economics and Management student in the Dyson School of Business, studied abroad in Spain as a part of the CIEE: Barcelona, Language and Culture program for the entire Spring 2022 semester.
Joon said that she felt that Barcelona’s COVID-19 safety measures were much more serious than those in the U.S. Due to the pandemic, Barcelona instituted a curfew until mid-February.
Lee said that while there are still COVID cases in the U.S., it is not nearly as big of a problem in Australia and that regulations felt similar to those back home.
Safety is another concern for some students traveling abroad.
Kate Wang ’22, who recently graduated from the Nolan School of Hotel Administration, also took part in an educational travel program for her field of study where she participated in the Left Bank Bordeaux Cup, a blind wine tasting competition in Bordeaux, France in June.
Like many students, Wang used the program as an opportunity to travel on her own. After the program ended, she left to explore Spain and ran into several obstacles during her trip.
Wang said she and two other Cornell students were staying at an Airbnb in Barcelona when their locked rental property was broken into, resulting in the loss of laptops and other valuables, including several of sentimental value. According to Wang, the host of their Airbnb was unresponsive and ignored their attempts to contact him with regard to the situation.
Wang said that the experience caused her and her friends an “insane” amount of emotional distress.
“I constantly need to talk to people,” Wang said of her emotions after the incident. “I need people by my side so I feel a little safer and it’s the same situation with my friends. They just can’t stay in a room by themselves.”
Joon, on the other hand, said that while pickpocketing was a concern during her time abroad, as a woman she felt safer walking around in a big city when she was in Spain, compared to in America.
“I’m living in New York this summer, and I definitely feel less safe on public transportation than I did in the metro in Barcelona,” Joon said. “The infrastructure was a lot better.”
Lee echoed a similar sentiment.
“I think as a girl and just as a young adult, we’ll always feel some sort of fear of our safety,” Lee said. “But I honestly feel safe enough here [in Australia] where I don’t have to worry that much.”
Joon said she would encourage any Cornell student on the fence about studying abroad to participate and take advantage of a study abroad program.
“I love Cornell and it was really hard for me to leave, but going abroad was one of the best things I did, because it truly pushed me out of my comfort zone,” Joon said. “I think by junior year you’re able to come back to a place and still call it home.”