WKU students return to studying abroad despite pandemic


Makaio Smith, News reporter

WKU students are getting to study abroad in various countries, despite the ongoing pandemic.

Students are required to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test prior to boarding their flight, and if a student tests positive for COVID-19, students will need to follow the guidelines in place for that particular country.

The study abroad staff is working to prepare the students for what they might face or the cultural shock they may experience while in a different country. 

“Study abroad has always been a distinguishing component of a WKU education,” John Sunnygard, associate provost of Global Learning & International Affairs, said. “Students’ health and safety are always our greatest concern on and off campus.  Our decisions are based in careful assessment of the very dynamic changes and movement of the pandemic around the globe, local and national responses to the pandemic, and the new complications of travel. We rely heavily on the US Department of State travel advisories.” 

Since policies differ everywhere students must keep them in mind while thinking about the places that are offered for them to study abroad at. 

“Students traveling during an international pandemic are obligated to follow all country-specific entry requirements,” Krista Erickson, WKU study abroad advisor said. “Beyond the entry requirements, many of our program providers have implemented a COVID-19 vaccination requirement in order to participate in their programs. As advisors, we are committed to helping all WKU students to have a safe and meaningful experience abroad.”

According to the IES Abroad, they are closely monitoring for any rising cases and impacts of COVID-19.  The advisors want everyone to have a safe experience when they travel abroad. 

“Before a student leaves for their program, we are reviewing each one for COVID-19 protocols and types of support services the students can expect while they are abroad,” Toni Dye, the Director of International Student and Scholar Services said.  “We expect students to be fully insured while abroad and to be fully vaccinated before they start their program since each country (including transit countries) have different vaccine requirements. 

For unvaccinated students, traveling outside of their host country is prohibited and could result in dispensary actions, according to the IES website.

“I’m learning how to be around people again in a safer environment,” Gabby Bunton, WKU journalism student studying in Denmark said. “In America, I’m used to being more aggressive and closed off. We are able to experience things and be close with one another. I’m glad that I am able to not only experience another country for the first time but get back to a sense of normalcy that I haven’t had in a while.”      

News reporter Makaio Smith can be reached [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @MakaioSmith