Zoe Berg, Photo Editor

At Yale, with vaccinations widely available and the COVID-19 pandemic showing some signs of waning, the Yale Study Abroad team is hopeful that the University will be able to offer increased study abroad options starting next semester.

The Yale Center for International and Professional Experience, or CIPE, hosted virtual study abroad information sessions on Sept. 21 and Sept. 28. CIPE is also continuing virtual advising sessions with study abroad advisers, in which students can discuss goals and plans for their time abroad. Although CIPE staff noted that the COVID-19 situation is still far from certain, they believe that study abroad will occur in some form over the coming semesters. 

“Our expectation is that this might be a transitional year, which means we are likely to see some resumption of study abroad, but it remains unclear as of today how complete that resumption might be,” Kelly McLaughlin, Yale’s director of study abroad, wrote in an email to the News. “There is real appetite to resume programs, but some programs, at least for now, might not be able to run or will only be able to run after making changes.”

Yale usually offers a variety of study abroad options for credit, such as a series of Summer Session Programs Abroad taught by faculty. Students can also participate in study abroad programs run by other institutions during the academic year or summer and apply for transfer credit. 

Approximately half of the Yale College class of 2019 — the last class to study at Yale prior to the pandemic — studied abroad. During the 2018-19 academic year, 898 students studied abroad, 803 of whom went during the summer.

Study abroad programs around the world have continuously been canceled since the start of the pandemic. McLaughlin told the News that the team is excited to get back to its typical responsibilities.

“The work of study abroad never actually stopped,” McLaughlin told the News. “Over the last two years, we have continued to work on behalf of students being able to embark on these amazing experiences, but month-by-month we have had to calibrate and recalibrate as we went along. That said, the likely prospect that we might be able to resume study abroad at least in some fashion is exhilarating to the team.”

According to McLaughlin, almost 80 students attended CIPE’s first virtual information session, and more than 20 are meeting with study abroad advisers each week. McLaughlin said that these virtual sessions have been popular enough that CIPE plans to continue offering them even once in-person appointments are available. He noted that providing online resources “has the potential for some real benefits for access and inclusion.” 

First-year students are especially looking forward to the return of study abroad programs. In 2018-19, 59 percent of Yale students who studied abroad were first years, according to information shared during the first virtual information session. 

Molly Smith ’25 said she wants to study abroad during the upcoming summer because she plans to take on internships or jobs in future summers. But she added that she is still concerned about the risks COVID-19 might pose for her summer experience. 

“I feel like [studying abroad] would be a great way to learn about the world, experience something new and live in a new environment,” Smith said. “But also, by this summer, I don’t know if the COVID-19 situation is going to be better. I don’t know if it would be the full experience, and the price will probably be the same.”

Associate Director of Study Abroad Allie Agati said during the virtual information session that a full list of courses for Yale’s 2022 summer study abroad programs will be available by December. The deadline to apply for transfer credit for spring 2022 study abroad programs is Oct. 15, and the deadline to apply to Yale Summer Session Programs Abroad is Feb. 15. Students participating in non-Yale summer programs abroad must apply for transfer credit by Mar. 1. 

Smith expressed some concerns about this timeline because “the COVID-19 situation in February is going to be very different from the COVID-19 situation in the summer.” 

However, other students are less concerned about the potential impact of the pandemic on their study abroad experience.

“I really only started considering study abroad [during the pandemic], so it’s already an automatic assumption I have that normal is going to be very different from what normal might have looked like for study abroad three years ago,” Brianne Anderson ’25 said.

The most popular study abroad destination for Yale students in the 2018-19 academic year was the United Kingdom, followed by France, Spain, Italy and China.

Sadie Bograd covers Nonprofits and Social Services. Last year, she covered City Hall. Originally from Kentucky, she is a sophomore in Davenport College majoring in Urban Studies.