2020-21 study abroad planning continues despite uncertainty

Like many aspects of life at Lawrence, the Off-Campus Programs for both Fall and Winter Terms this year were affected by COVID-19. However, the Office of Off-Campus Programs is accepting applications for the 2021-2022 academic year. The deadline for applications is Wednesday, Jan. 27. All current Lawrence students are eligible to apply.  

Lezlie Weber, director of off-campus programming, stated that although COVID-19 has not yet affected study abroad for the upcoming academic year, it likely will in some capacity. However, Weber said that the Off-Campus Programs’ office is hopeful that more programs will be able to operate this year.   

Lawrence offers off-campus programs in over 30 countries as well as eight domestic programs. There have not been any cancelations yet for Fall 2021 and beyond, according to Weber. Weber believes that study abroad develops skills, such as confidence and leadership, in students. 

“It helps to foster their understanding of cross-cultural communication and broadening their worldview,” Weber said. “Many alumni mention Off-Campus Programs as a highlight to their undergraduate years.”  

Weber explained that Lawrence is hoping that the current lockdown in the U.K. and mass vaccinations will allow the London Centre to run in Spring 2021. According to Weber, students who study abroad will have similar safety protocols such as self-isolation, testing, masks and social distancing. Weber emphasized that Lawrence pays close attention to the best practices for health and safety to ensure these are being followed.  

For students like junior Earl Simons Jr. who would be the first in his family to study abroad, the COVID-19 pandemic did not deter his desire to learn overseas. In fact, it increased his determination to study abroad. Simons is majoring in international relations with a minor in Japanese, which has influenced his decision to apply for the Japan study abroad program.  

Simons feels that this is his last chance to study abroad because he will be a senior next academic year. For Simons, COVID-19 reaffirmed his desire to study abroad. Despite the pandemic, he explained that he will still likely study in Japan, but there may be online classes.  

Simons explained that he has always been interested in Japanese culture, contributing to his desire to study and live in Japan. For him, study abroad seemed to be the best opportunity to fulfill this dream. The Japan program also drew Simons’s interest because it provides students with the opportunity to choose to have a homestay and a cultural internship component.  

Building new connections and meeting new people are two things that Simons is looking forward to within the Japan study abroad program. Additionally, he is excited to see Japan’s landscape and nature, especially the countryside. Simons emphasized his desire to experience life in Japan and see how it differs from life in America, and he’s not going to let COVID-19 deter him from this goal.