Study abroad trips to begin winter break 2021

Gabriel Fiorini, News Reporter

DeKALB — NIU’s study abroad program has begun accepting applications for winter break and the Fall 2022 semester. 

Depending on the program students apply for, deadlines for the two time frames will end anywhere from Oct. 1 to Nov. 15.

The department offers two different study abroad programs. One is led by an NIU faculty member, and another lets a student attend classes at another university and live at the dorms or with a host family.

“The first is our faculty directed program, so those are programs led by an NIU faculty member,” said Lauren Mock, director of the study abroad program.  “We run the majority of those over summer and then winter break and spring break.”

The program returned to the regular in-person study abroad experience this fall after offering students a virtual study abroad experience last spring due to COVID-19. The spring semester’s interactive online classes and internships were prompted by NIU’s cancellation of the program. Overseas travel was suspended last year amidst the pandemic, and NIU couldn’t offer the traditional study abroad experience throughout the spring and summer semesters.

The protocols introduced in response to COVID-19 travel restrictions have remained the same since the department began accepting applications for the Fall 2021 semester. The study abroad department looks at each country individually, determining whether a student can visit. Advisers base these decisions on the rate of infection and ultimately on the likelihood of another travel ban.

“Specifically looking at Japan and Australia, our students are still not able to enter into those countries,” Mock said. “However, Europe has always been our most popular area for students, so it’s not surprising that the majority of our students currently abroad are in Europe since that is the trend of study abroad at NIU.”

Wherever students choose to travel, they must at least be vaccinated for COVID-19. Depending on which country they choose, there is the possibility of additional vaccine requirements.

“This summer, NIU administration announced that there would be a COVID vaccine mandate for study abroad,” Mock said. “Any student that wants to study abroad does need to be vaccinated for COVID and then in addition to that wherever a student is travelling to they are bound by their host country requirements.”

Despite COVID-19 restrictions, the department states that interest in the program indicates a return to normalcy.

“We are still planning our winter break programs, our spring programs and we’re processing applications for our spring, semester-long students,” she said. “We’re starting to operate with a little more normalcy, but obviously, with COVID, things can change at any time.”