There are numerous advantages to studying abroad, not just academic ones. It offers opportunities for you to grow personally and professionally, while experiencing a culture and lifestyle completely different from your own.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Spring 2020 semester abroad was shut down barely three months in, cancelling programs from Fall 2020 through Summer of 2021. However, after University reviews, Saint Joseph’s has welcomed students back to study abroad programs this fall and next spring. Some of this year’s student favorites are Florence University of the Arts, The American University of Rome and DIS in Copenhagen, Denmark (find more at https://internationalprograms.sju.edu/).

Given our new reality amid the COVID-19 pandemic, programs have taken measures to ensure students’ safety upon arrival, varying from country to country. These include monitoring contagion with frequent testing, offering strict on-campus housing and safety rules, applying travel restrictions, and using travel logs to monitor student whereabouts. Additionally, CDC mask guidelines, social distancing protocols and proof of vaccination are required.

Photo 1: Nyhavn Denmark (Captured by Marcela Rullan); Photo 2: Cascada del Parc de la Ciutadella; Photo 3: Rome, Italy (Isabel Nadal, Marcella Rullan, Beatriz Calderon); Photo 4: Prague, Czech Republic (Captured by Beatriz Calderon, featuring Isabel Nadal)

However, Sara Haines, Assistant Director for Study Abroad and Health & Safety at Saint Joseph’s, says, “students should be flexible while abroad, as public health measures can change at any time!”

“Students should be ready for changes to mask requirements, social distancing guidelines, and class modality in the event of new measures in their host city.”

Sara Haines

Despite having travel restrictions placed on several programs, Sara and the CIP office “encourage students to think about the positives of a semester focused on their host country” as students will be able to “get to know their host country in a much deeper way than may have if they were spending most of their weekends away!” 

Marcelo Gutiérrez, class of 2023, states that studying abroad next spring will serve as an opportunity to expand his horizons and knowledge of his country of choice, Japan. He says, “I am interested in learning the Japanese language, culture and indigenous religion, Shintō.”

“While abroad at Sophia University, located in Tokyo, I hope to engage myself in the country’s culture by interacting with the natives and participating in some of the activities it has to offer.” 

Marcelo Gutiérrez

Mariana Ruiz, class of 2021, attended the Florence University of the Arts, which got cut short in Spring 2020 due to COVID-19. Regardless of her experience and her study abroad circumstance, Mariana learned much and advises you to “put yourself out there, get out of your comfort zone, it is the best way to maximize your time abroad.”

“Studying abroad opens doors that lead you to a whole new world and different people. It is your opportunity to explore the work, yourself and grow.”

Mariana Ruiz

Regardless of restrictions, the experiences studying abroad offer are unmatched. Exploring another country will allow you to view your home country and life in a new light, allowing you to bring new perspectives to the table. Leaving your comfort zone will only allow you to grow as an individual, as well as a future professional. This is your time to explore yourself and the world. This is your once in a lifetime opportunity, go get it.