Friday, December 17, 2021

Vanessa Miller, The Gazette


IOWA CITY — With COVID racing toward pandemic status in the spring of 2020, University of Iowa International Programs made the unprecedented decision to bring home every one of its hundreds of study abroad students scattered around the globe — from Australia to Tanzania, Estonia to Iceland.

Months and even years of planning, preparing and then packing were upended and undone for UI students expecting the time of their lives experiencing and learning in a different culture.

And even today — with COVID variants still propelling spikes in places like France, England, Italy and Spain — study abroad experiences aren’t happening in pre-pandemic style or at a pre-pandemic clip.

But they are happening again, and UI International Programs Dean Russell Ganim said his office is working to cautiously and steadily meet pent-up student demand.

Q: How interested have students been in post-shutdown study abroad? Has the pandemic affected interest level?

A: Interest remains high. There is pent-up demand for international experiences, which we are trying to meet, depending on the opportunities available. We anticipate numbers increasing with every coming term as international travel becomes more normalized.

Q: Back when the pandemic began in spring 2020, how many students were in study abroad programs who then had to be repatriated?

A: In late February 2020, we started bringing students home from South Korea and Italy. Other countries soon followed as conditions deteriorated around the globe. In all, we recalled nearly 300 students.