Studying abroad a possibility in the spring for UTEP students

Culturally enriching online courses have also been an alternative to studying abroad

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Illustration by Hugo Hinojosa

The online programs also provide a similar experience to that which students would have received if it wasn’t for the current pandemic.

Pablo Gallegos, Contributor

UTEP’s Office of International Programs and Study Abroad is now accepting applications for trips departing in the Spring 2021 semester, but what’s different now amid the COVID-19 pandemic?

Even though the program is not sending anyone anywhere this current semester, it is still helping students get prepared to study in other locations as soon as possible. However, Judith Moore, the assistant director of the UTEP study abroad office, said the likelihood of travel is still blurred since traveling details are up to the host country’s laws regarding COVID and recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention.

Moore explained that even though the study abroad office doesn’t recommend making any sort of payment right now, she said “it is up to the students to make that decision.” The study abroad office is already allowing students to consider payment options for future trips.

Moore said this is because students must thoroughly research “the return policies” that the diverse study abroad programs offer which may vary.

UTEP’s study abroad office has also been monetarily affected by the pandemic, but there haven’t been any layoffs at the department, Moore explained.  Positions of employment that were open before COVID-19 are still open, but have been unable to be filled due to “budget cuts,” she said.

Another option that’s been available for students are online courses that are given by the host schools in foreign countries, which aim to provide an equally enriching virtual experience.

This past summer, UTEP’s College of Engineering and The Universidad de Piura’s (UDEP) took on this digital approach by virtually hosting their annual Global and Regional Sustainable Engineering international program, where UTEP and UDEP students would typically get the opportunity to travel to each other’s locations.

Despite the challenges brought by the pandemic, faculty members from both universities provided an enriching experience for participants through an 8-week long program that featured workshops about the course and cultural activities like cooking and dancing lessons.

The program is similar to those being offered by study abroad websites like GoAbroad.com, which promotes online programs that exhibit the same level of benefits for students who, in more simple times, may be facing financial constraints or time restrictions.

Nevertheless, the Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE), a non-profit intercultural exchange organization and a UTEP-affiliated provider, recently announced all of its Spring 2021 programs. These programs include trips to Argentina, Australia, China, France, Italy, Japan, and Spain, among others.

For a full list regarding CIEE’s study abroad programs, visit ciee.org.

Pablo Gallegos may be reached at [email protected]