College students have a bucket list of goals to accomplish during their university journey. From social to academic, they can range in all areas, including joining Greek life, earning an internship at their dream company, and residing in another country for a semester. These are all attainable, but there’s no denying that the pandemic has become a roadblock, especially for studying abroad.
As more universities open this fall, offices of global engagement/international education’s study abroad programs will also return this upcoming school year. According to the Forum on Education Abroad, over 40% of organization respondents said they plan to resume operations this fall 2021.
While studying abroad can be an exhilarating opportunity, the preparation for it can be nerve-racking. For current students there’s also the added challenge of COVID-19. As your university’s study abroad leadership team helps students prepare for their trip this fall 2021, here are five ways to help ease college students’ apprehensions about studying abroad.
1. Create a dedicated digital space for communication and support
With the help of a campus portal, specifically aimed at students who are studying abroad in the same location, it can provide a welcoming space to connect this community of students with fellow classmates and faculty abroad. With messaging channels and direct messaging they can ask each other questions, share tips and pieces of advice, and offer peer-to-peer engagement as well as faculty support. What better way for these students to build a local network from their home away from home?
2. Solidify a go-to news hub
In addition to finding a space to connect with the community, students will also be seeking the latest news and announcements. Hosting a media hub for them to refer to when it comes to the most current news about COVID-19 in the area, updates on traveling internationally, and other changes, restrictions, and requirements will be imperative for students feeling less tense and more comfortable along the way. No matter where you’re located right now, it’s essential to know what regulations are in place, and giving students a section where they can easily discover these announcements will give them some peace of mind.
3. Prioritize notifications and announcements
Depending on how often a user looks at their email, it’s easy to miss a critical email that’s buried within a full inbox. Make sure your team is enabling push notifications and announcements within your campus portal. It’ll help students stay on track of news and announcements and can act accordingly.
4. Disseminate resource guides with useful insight
The more information the better and students could always use extra help when settling in a new place. With the help of staff abroad and previous study abroad students, compile resource guides to help new participants get started when it comes to learning about the area they’ll be living in. Where can students go grocery shopping or if they have a medical emergency? Provide a list of these resources that they can scan in a pinch.
5. Don’t forget to share accompanying virtual maps
For essential locations, build upon it and supplement with virtual maps. Make your resource guides even more dynamic and add a boost of support with a map to share where things are visually. This will make navigation of their new area even easier to trek. They will feel more confident exploring their surroundings at their leisure with your virtual guidance.