Students prepare to study abroad


Courtesy / Padnos International Center

Sabrina Edwards, Laker Life Editor

With COVID-19 restrictions lessening in most countries, Grand Valley State University students are able to prepare again to study abroad. While there were programs available this fall, GVSU was highly suggesting students plan for winter 2022 and on for their trips abroad. 

Students who are looking to study abroad can still apply for spring 2022, the deadline to apply is March 1 for both the global experiences internship and the external programs. The deadline for the GVSU partnership program is Feb. 1. 

Before students purchase any tickets it’s necessary to meet with a peer advisor. This will aid students in finding out where they want to go, which includes researching programs in the countries of their choice, when they can go, what is needed to prepare and how to fund their trip. 

Kaiya Mikel, a junior at GVSU, has recently just started planning her study abroad trip for fall 2022. 

“I minor in Mandarin, so it would help me finish out my minor and I think it would be the best way to learn Chinese,” Mikel said.

While Mikel chose to study abroad for her minor, some chose to study abroad for enrichment and others have to for their degrees. If a student’s major requires them to study abroad and they are unable to because of COVID-19 there are some alternatives available. The Padnos International Center recommends students in those predicaments meet with the department’s academic advisor to come up with a plan that works with their specific needs. For students who have a Spanish major or minor, they are being asked to fill out a request form for exemption.

Students who are worried about COVID-19 and who have already been accepted to study abroad can defer their acceptance to a later date.

“Even now I think some programs aren’t letting specifically Americans come in at the moment, my trip is for fall 2022, so I’m hoping it will be on the downswing, but who can say,” Mikel said. “I was always planning to go in 2022, that will be my last semester of college and it will finish up my degree.”

Availability differs from place to place. If a student is looking to go abroad it’s best to speak with an advisor about the circumstances for the specific countries in question. However, there is a tracker and country-specific information available online

If GVSU cancels study abroad for a semester the students who placed their deposits will get them back. However, if a student cancels their trip on their own normal cancellation fees do apply. It is recommended that students participating in external programs keep in touch with their providers as their withdrawal process might be different than GVSU’s. It is recommended that students looking to go abroad have a backup plan to register for classes at GVSU in case of cancellations. 

For students studying a language, going abroad is one of the common ways to pick it up faster than finishing out the course at GVSU. While Mikel does minor in Mandarin, she is nervous about studying abroad in a country that requires her to only speak Mandarin.

“I think I’ll pick up the language fast, but I’m kind of at a stagnant place with my learning right now,” Mikel said. “If I wasn’t taking Mandarin I would be more focused on Europe or Tokyo so the language is a very big draw for me.”

There are multiple events being held on campus to help students get the resources they need to make the decision to study abroad. There will be study abroad first step meetings on Oct. 6 and 13 from 5 to 6 p.m. in Lake Ontario Hall room 103.