WKU Global Learning hosts discussion about studying abroad during the pandemic


Alexandria Anderson, News reporter

A discussion about studying abroad during COVID-19 was held in HCIC multipurpose room on Thursday, Nov. 18th. 

It was hosted by John Sunnygarad, associate provost for Global Learning and International Affairs, who spoke with students about misconceptions regarding study abroad happening during the pandemic.

“We’re asking ourselves what a student needs to do to travel to one of those countries. We understand the risks of our personnel, students and faculty and staff, asking ‘are they going to be safe abroad?’,” Sunnygarad said. “It isn’t a make-do kind of thing, we’re very concerned about people’s safety abroad, and we still understand that there are other risks besides the pandemic.”

Parker Raybourne, a senior political science, public relations and advertising major and WKU global ambassador also contributed to the discussion. He explained the importance of students understanding that study abroad opportunities are still available, even during the pandemic.

“There’s a lot of misconceptions about study abroad right now. It’s hard because a lot [of students] applied to programs but some of these programs have been pulled,” Raybourne said. “[The pandemic] affected everything, beyond just what programs are available. It’s mostly rumors, you can go abroad; we’re still sending people and we’re still accepting people.”

Raybourne expressed there is a multitude of resources available for students that are interested in studying abroad and advising for every step of the study abroad process.

“Students are worried they might not be able to go or that their program may be canceled. It’s extremely easy to apply for study abroad right now,” Raybourne said. “There’s always that risk that it might get canceled, but there’s also always the chance for that life changing opportunity.”

Raybourne said the first step in getting into study abroad is signing up for peer advising to talk about possible programs to explore, which will allow you to narrow ideas down. Students will then be matched with a full-time advisor in their possible location of study, who will further aid in helping students apply to programs.

The key point of the discussion was to show students that there are still study abroad opportunities available, even during uncertain or unpredictable times. Sunnygarad left the discussion with a statement on how studying abroad now can positively impact your future.

“It gets you thinking about some of the things you could do after going abroad,” Sunnygarad said. “Three fourths of all world leaders have studied at least once outside of their own country. It gives you a much better sense of who you are and gives you the tools you need to work with other people.”

News reporter Alexandria Anderson can be reached at [email protected]