Franklin College, UIndy study abroad back on

Southside college study abroad programs are back on. Though most countries were students want to go are loosening requirements, some have not loosened restrictions as much or are see-sawing back and forth between open and closed.

Franklin College students left the country for Summer academic opportunities for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic first up-ended travel plans for students in 2020. At the University of Indianapolis, the program started up again in the spring semester, with more than 50 students studying abroad in countries including Italy, Spain, Cyprus and the Dominican Republic.

Most of Franklin College’s study abroad activity occurs during the winter term. A small group of 11 students made journeys this summer to reopen the school’s international program, traveling to Spain, Italy, Ghana and England.

Franklin College students are required by the school to be vaccinated and have received a booster shot before they travel outside the country, said Jennifer Cataldi, director of the college’s office of global education.

The United States dropped its testing requirement for air travelers entering the country, which made things easier for students leave and re-enter the country.

“You used to have to have a negative test to enter most countries and a negative test to enter the U.S., but that has changed,” Cataldi said. “The world is opening up and very few places are restricted.”

Testing requirements have previously been an obstacle for students, particularly when community spread was more widespread. The requirement impeded the return of a student from UIndy who had to stay in Italy longer than intended after she tested positive for COVID-19, Sadek said. After the student tested positive, one of the trip leaders stayed in Italy with her, coordinating at-home testing and meal delivery until she was able to return to the United States, she said.

Navigating the restrictions have proven to be worth it for students, Sadek said.

“As soon as the student landed in the U.S., she was messaging on WhatsApp how she can’t wait to go back next year,” Sadek said. “That’s always nice to hear, even if you have an off experience or it doesn’t go according to plan.”

Currently, the eastern hemisphere presents the most issues for both southside study abroad programs.

Japan, Australia, China and New Zealand have some of the toughest restrictions, which could prevent students from traveling to those countries in the near future, Sadek said.

“Japan is really difficult. China is really hard. We have a partner university there and do a dual degree program but we can’t get our faculty over there or get their students over to us,” Sadek said. “Australia and New Zealand have been shut down for a while, but things are changing quickly.”

Franklin College has typically had trips to Japan during the January term, but that is likely not on the docket for the coming winter. Instead, about 120 students will travel to Guatemala, Italy, South Africa, France and England. With most COVID-19 restrictions lifted worldwide, most of the remaining restrictions have to do with unrest, rather than the virus, Cataldi said.

This year, countries such as Russia, Ukraine and its neighbors have been added to the ‘do not travel’ list for both Franklin College and the University of Indianapolis, Cataldi and Sadek said.