LUBBOCK, Texas — Texas Tech’s Office of International Affairs said Monday that it is planning to run its study abroad programs in the upcoming spring semester.
Dr. Sukant Misra, Vice Provost for International Affairs, explained that the university has been working with schools overseas to come up with a plan that will allow for students to safely go abroad despite the pandemic.
“We have developed very strict guidelines and protocols to send our students abroad, starting in January,” said Dr. Misra. “So if there is a program provider, then we’ve been talking to those program providers actually in the last three, four weeks, to develop a set of guidelines so that we know that if we do send our students abroad, they are safe and secure.”
Texas Tech hasn’t run any study abroad programs since they were canceled in the spring. Both students and faculty explained that the value of studying abroad is irreplaceable.
“It really brought in my view of the world and encouraged me to seek out new opportunities. I think that that’s the same for every student that studies abroad,” said Texas Tech Student Body President Hunter Heck, who studied abroad in Seville, Spain a few summers ago. “The study abroad experience is unmatched.”
However for students that went abroad during the spring, their experience was cut short.
“I actually was part of the group whose experience got cut short and actually got sent home due to COVID two months into my program,” said Ryleigh Carson, Student Government Chief of Staff, who also studied abroad in Seville. “For us, it was really, really kind of scary. Going from, ‘Hey, we’re okay,’ to, ‘Hey, we can’t travel these places anymore,’ to, ‘Okay. We’re not traveling anymore,’ to being sent home.”
The Office of International Affairs also explained that not being able to provide students with the abroad experience has been frustrating for them.
“We go home everyday and think we’re not being able to do what we’re supposed to do to our students, for our students,” said Dr. Misra.
While some countries still have travel restrictions on the United States, Dr. Misra explained that they will be monitoring these changes as they plan for the spring and will make changes as necessary.
“I’ve heard from students that are really excited about this opportunity, have been planning to be able to go. We’re hoping to go this semester during their senior year. And so maybe they’ll get it done before they’re able to graduate,” said Heck. “But then on the other hand, I’ve heard of students that are concerned about traveling and sending our students abroad when there’s still a lot of uncertainty around our situation.”