A big decision many international students are facing nowadays is whether they should study abroad during an ongoing pandemic that is constantly changing the rules and regulations of many countries around the world. But you can still safely prepare to study abroad through research, protecting your boundaries and personal space, and following the safety precautions of the school where you’ll be studying.
Here are a couple of study abroad safety tips for international students to consider when taking this step.
Reach Out to Students Studying Abroad
Whether they’re currently studying abroad or were in the past 2 years during the peak of the pandemic, you can connect with them through international students’ blogs or alumni services of the schools you’re interested in. Knowing what to expect based on their own experience will help relieve your stress.
Some important questions to ask can be:
- Did you feel safe during your time abroad?
- What obstacles have you faced?
- What are your greatest safety recommendations?
- What safety precautions were taken by your school administration?
- Did the pandemic affect your courses?
Research and keeping track of the latest updates will help you stay up to date on changes related to travel bans and flights, visa suspensions, new academic regulations, and how the schools you filtered are coping with the pandemic and for you to avoid any last-minute changes. When you reach out to the administration, make sure they answer all your concerns. You also need to pay great attention to how their programmes, classes, teachers, and activities are adapting without jeopardizing your academic and personal excitement.
In addition, you need to address the challenges head-on:
- You can still plan: even if the pandemic can’t disappear overnight, follow through with your application process and double-check the temporary modifications for international students. Can’t wish the pandemic away, hence stick to the plan.
- Pick the school with a hands-on Covid-19 response: Nearly every campus across the globe has re-oriented its actions to respond to the unique conditions and to accommodate as many international students as possible; France is a very good example of such policies.
For instance, EMLV’s revised application policies back in 2020 tackled many areas: from the application fees that were waived, deadline extensions, to language test flexibility for those unable to take it.
The COVID-19 health crisis has acted as a catalyst for the pedagogical model in higher education as most institutions have had to switch to online courses or mixed/hybrid formats to ensure academic continuity. Even though the majority of schools and universities are back to physical learning, this doesn’t exclude the chance of going back to hybrid learning if necessary.
However, part of the studying abroad journey is the experience itself: meeting new people, gaining real experience, and participating in activities especially since physical campuses are not limited to classrooms alone; it is a space where students network and socialize as well. This being said, it’s important when deciding on a programme and school, to scout the facilities and resources it offers, and how they will support your effort.
A perfect example was Devinci Online, EMLV’s online learning platform that offered international students the chance to seamlessly transition to campus during the pandemic through:
- Live interactive classes
- Live participation in extra-curricular activities such as the Hackathon and Business Game
- Live participation to careers services and events
- Access to digital resources
- Access to virtual collaborative working spaces
- Access to online assessment platforms for various assessments
Study Abroad with Positive Attitude and Self-Motivation
It is common for students to sometimes feel overwhelmed and anxious, especially when far away from home and making big decisions in uncertain times. Asking for help is the first and perhaps the most important step and remembering that choosing to study abroad is a truly courageous thing to do!
Don’t forget to build a local support system in your new community and stay in touch with people from back home for some extra relief.