Zoe Berg, Photo Editor

After a pandemic-induced two year hiatus, the Yale Summer Session Programs Abroad took place in person this summer. 

In most summers, the University offers a variety of YSS Programs Abroad where students can participate in study overseas and improve their language skills. Travel and social distancing restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic halted students’ plans for the 2020 and 2021 summers. But the program was able to return this summer, sending students around the world.

Kelly McLaughlin, director of study abroad, wrote in an email that the programs ran well even after “​​such a long disruption in travel.”  

“While Covid presented some of the usual challenges, programs and participants were, by that point, prepared for and experienced with handling that,” McLaughlin wrote. 

This summer, students participated in 17 programs offered by Yale as well as a number of other approved non-Yale programs. According to the Yale Study Abroad website, the summer’s sessions included historical courses in Croatia, filmmaking and cinema courses in the Czech Republic and France and language courses offered in Italy and Spain. 

According to McLaughlin, 691 students participated in study abroad programs this summer. In the summer of 2019, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, 803 students were in study abroad programs. 

The Study Abroad Office plans to continue operating as normal, McLaughlin wrote, given that the Yale University International Travel Policy for Yale College Students​ has “effectively reverted to its pre-Covid status.” 

The only change in Yale’s travel policy was the addition of general vaccination recommendations and guidance on region-specific risk assessment before travel. 

For students who participated in non-Yale study abroad programs for Yale credit, like Cem Kupeli ’25, pandemic restrictions had almost no effect.

“Everything was absolutely normal,” said Kupeli, who participated in a non-Yale program in France. “I did not encounter any Covid-related problems neither during my homestay nor courses.”

A number of students who participated in these programs spoke to the News about their experiences and reflections after spending the summer studying abroad. 

Students were generally enthusiastic about their decision to study abroad and many talked about their goal to learn a new language. 

“I chose to study abroad over the summer to immerse myself in a foreign culture, catch up on credits and become more proficient in my target language,” Ali Aldous ’25 said. “Also, it seemed like a fun opportunity to live and learn with my classmates and friends in a new and exciting setting.”

Aldous participated in the Intermediate Italian YSS Program in Siena, Italy. She discussed some of the challenges she faced while studying abroad over the summer, including the demanding course load and adapting to a new culture. 

Meanwhile, Tim Lingk ’25 studied abroad in Taiwan through the Yale CET Taiwan program in partnership with National Taiwan University. 

“I would like to use Chinese professionally in the future and plan to live and work in East Asia,” Lingk said about his decision to study abroad. “As such, improving my Chinese while exploring Taiwan struck me as a great way to spend my summer.”

Christian Tamez ’25 studied abroad in Brazil and did the YSS in Paraty and Rio de Janeiro: Elementary Portuguese program. 

While Tamez reminisced about the travel experiences he had while studying in Brazil, including a boat ride in Paraty and the increased confidence in his Portuguese language skills, he also discussed the challenges he faced upon starting his study abroad program. 

“I do think the main challenge was living at the beginning since we were just starting the language in general and were expected to survive in the metropolis from day one,” Tamez said.  “But it proved to be a great learning curve being able to apply my language on a daily basis.”

Tamez plans to continue his Portuguese studies at Yale and feels confident about the road ahead due to the language skills and experiences he picked up over the summer. 

Veronica Zimmer ’25 studied abroad in Paris, France and noted the initial challenge of having to communicate entirely in French with a host family. Now, Zimmer said, she is more confident with her French skills and reminisced about her experiences visiting the French countryside with her classmates. 

“The countryside was stunning and I got the chance to have lots of one-on-one conversations with my professors,” Zimmer said. “We explored the beach, a farmers market, and the places that inspired Van Gogh’s paintings. I feel much more confident speaking in French now. I’m certainly not using every idiomatic phrase, but I can communicate smoothly to francophones who don’t speak any English.”

Although summer programs have come to a close, Yale also allows students to study abroad during the fall, though the University does not sponsor its own fall programs. According to McLaughlin, there are currently 28 Yale students studying abroad for the fall semester in a variety of programs. 

With everything going back to normal, students who are eager to “engage with the larger world,” as McLaughlin put it, can now meet with a study abroad adviser to start planning their travels.

The application for Yale Summer Session Programs Abroad closes on Feb. 7, 2022.