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This turbulent year does not seem to be getting easier. The COVID-19 pandemic, which started officially at the beginning of March, has led to extensive lockdowns in many countries around the world and has interfered with plans - personal, educational, and professional - of most people.
The Coronavirus Effect
The pandemic had its impact on almost every aspect of people's everyday lives, but summer vacation plans have suffered the most. With borders being closed and flights canceled, many had a lot of problems, both staying in the country of their sojourn and returning back home.
Particularly, international students in different countries were reported to be nearly starving, struggling to solve the financial and visa issues caused by the pandemic. And the uncertainty has not gone anywhere yet - same as the virus itself.
But people's desire to see the world is also still there. So, they've renewed travel for vacations to available destinations. They also go on business trips again and visit their friends and relatives abroad.
As for the students, they are not planning to abandon their plans to study abroad, too, a survey conducted by QS showed. What's more, other opportunities to travel as a student still exist in 2020: there are volunteer programs, au pair, and other offers available.
But is it safe to engage in them? Or would it be better to take a pause and wait till this whole situation with the virus resolves? What about travel restrictions? And what options should a student willing to combine traveling with getting a degree, choose this year?
Let's try to figure it out.
Before the pandemic stroke, young people had a lot of opportunities to combine traveling with getting a degree, for example:
studying abroad (including scholarship programs);
educational camps and exchange programs;
spending a vacation abroad.
These opportunities were not available for a while. But now, several months into the pandemic, when the virus is attenuating, and the restrictions are being gradually lifted, they all are again at students' disposal.
Colleges and unis around the world are going to start the academic year as usual, though with some possible changes in their curriculums. There is also a wide range of volunteer programs for 2020, and many families are ready to welcome an au pair. Plus, you can still go for domestic traveling for a vacation.
That said, the choice of possibilities at hand is far from being as wide as it had been last year. There still are travel restrictions in most countries, and there is a lot of uncertainty about the forthcoming academic year in particular.
For example, many colleges and universities are not sure if they will be able to offer on-campus programs during the fall term/semester, and it is very likely that students in the US, UK, and other countries will continue studying online in September.
This may be a challenge to many students, causing screen fatigue and other health problems. To avoid them, remember that there's nothing wrong with handling certain academic assignments to professionals. For example, skilled writers at essay writing service are ever-ready to help students struggling with their essays. Feel free to use this option.
There is good news, though. While it is very likely that many international students will not be able to study on-campus this fall because of travel restrictions, educational institutions like Cambridge University accept delayed arrivals and online study during a few months after the start of the academic year. Harvard and other US universities, on the other hand, discourage all university-related travel until further notice.
As for the volunteer programs, there are a lot of them on offer in various countries around the world. Yet, there's still a great deal of uncertainty due to travel restrictions, so providers offer flexible booking policies with an option to change the program, destination, or dates without charge up to 14 days prior to the planned trip.
Travel restrictions are, of course, the biggest problem for students willing to travel while getting a degree.
These restrictions are probably not going to be lifted until the end of the year, so one has to pick travel destinations accurately and always check if travel is allowed there. There are also mandatory 14-day quarantines on arrival in many countries. So, one should be ready for such a turn. Also, check if COVID-negative test results are required for traveling to your destination country.
Safety concerns are also an issue for many. Though tension has eased and many people started to treat the disease too lightly, there are still worries about contracting it. So, some people prefer to stay at home as much as possible and, of course, not leave their home country.
If you're one of them, there's no way but to defer travel plans until mass vaccination starts and the virus will be taken under control.
Problems may also be caused by visa issues. For example, the US suspended giving visas to international students because they can study online, so there's no real need for them to come to the US, and there are still restrictions within the EU, even for the members of the Schengen area.
Finally, there are still talks about the second wave of the virus that may arrive in the fall months. So, everyone deciding to travel abroad should consider the risks of new lockdowns. This year, people caught abroad during lockdowns experienced huge stress, so take care to have yourself covered.
It is still possible to combine traveling with getting a degree in 2020. But it's much more of a challenge in the post-quarantine world than it used to be. Students have fewer options to study and volunteer abroad, and the choice of countries available has shrunk.
However, those who don't want to miss their chances to see the world during student years can find the opportunities to do it. But every student has to keep in mind the experience of their peers and get prepared to face any problems that may occur during their sojourn abroad.