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Education Abroad During COVID-19

Education Abroad is excited to work with you as you prepare for your experience! While the COVID-19 pandemic has posed a multitude of challenges in all aspects of our lives, it has also demonstrated just how connected the world is and highlighted the importance of cross-cultural experiences. We believe your time abroad will help you develop the skills necessary to become a global leader and to grow academically, personally, and professionally well beyond the end of your program. 

Your experience will likely be different than you may have originally imagined. Remain flexible, informed, respectful, and ready to comply with program and local regulations. Being successful during your program will require you to prepare in advance of your departure. Between now and your program start, be sure to routinely check back on these resources, consider these questions, and monitor your email for updates from Education Abroad, your program, and/or host university. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to reach out to your Education Abroad program manager

The COVID-19 Vaccine

All participants, on both domestic and international programs, must follow any vaccine mandate policy decisions put forth by CU leadership and must comply with campus vaccine mandates.

The benefits of getting a vaccine extend beyond their established health benefits:

  • Local governments may decide travelers must be vaccinated in order to enter the country (often with little warning)
  • Certain countries are exempting vaccinated individuals from mandatory quarantines
  • Vaccination may be required by local governments to engage in social activities such as going to the movies, the theater, museums, restaurants, nightclubs, concerts, sporting events, or gyms
  • Host institutions may decide, as many U.S. universities are doing, to require those attending the institution to be vaccinated and they may have fewer exemptions than those set by CU
  • Airline travel requirements may shift and require proof of vaccination to travel
  • Vaccinated individuals will likely have increased ability for independent travel, both during and after their program 
  • More lenient guidelines from the CDC upon return from international travel 

As a result, not being vaccinated against COVID-19 could

  • Impact your ability to enter your host country, 
  • Impact your ability to engage in social/daily activities
  • Result in additional quarantine or testing requirements, with the cost of quarantine and additional testing being at your expense
You should make a digital and second physical copy of your vaccination card. Border agents may require persons entering a country to show proof of vaccination in lieu of other COVID-related entry requirements; consult your host country entry requirements for information specific to your destination.

If you have received a CU exemption to the vaccine requirement, this exemption may not be accommodated on your program. This would be the case in situations where your host university, program, and/or country entry requirements vary from CU’s guidelines. You are required to abide by any vaccine requirements and associated exemptions imposed through your program and/or entry requirements. Education Abroad anticipates that as the vaccine becomes more widely available, many airlines, countries, and programs/universities will increasingly require individuals to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Review your program information carefully. If you are unvaccinated, reach out to your Education Abroad program manager and they will double-check your program/host country’s policies and verify your eligibility for your program. If there are any concerns about your program eligibility based on your vaccination status, your program manager will connect with you to discuss your options.

Pre-Departure Academic Considerations

For students on Education Abroad programs, Ed Abroad will register you in the study abroad placeholder course (STDY 1001) for the Spring 2022 term at CU Boulder.  This 15-credit course will hold your spot at CU while you’re abroad; once we receive your fall grades, the placeholder course will be replaced with your study abroad coursework.

 who fall into the following groups should enroll in CU Boulder classes for Spring 2022 in addition to being enrolled in this placeholder course: 
  • You are studying abroad in a country where Education Abroad did not send students in 2021. This includes Argentina, Botswana, Chile, Colombia, Japan, Portugal, Samoa, Singapore, Taiwan, and the Turks & Caicos Islands.  
  • You have been accepted with a condition. (See the acceptance email you received from your program manager if you are unsure if you were accepted with a condition.) 
  • You want to enroll in CU Boulder classes as a backup option for your own peace of mind.  
Other students are not required to enroll in CU Boulder classes for Spring 2022.  

Departing Healthy & Prepared

  • Monitor your health: know the signs and symptoms of COVID-19 before you depart and throughout your program.

  • Research the COVID-19 response in your host country or domestic location: As you prepare for your program, familiarize yourself with local guidelines. Are vaccines and/or masks required to enter certain buildings? Are there limits on gathering sizes? Will a curfew exist in your host city? What does nightlife look like? Communities are developing their own unique "COVID cultures" that can be quite different from what you've experienced in Boulder. You will adjust more readily if you arrive already knowing when and where masks are required, local guidelines with public transportation, etc. 

  • Follow: CDC guidelines on international travel, or CDC Domestic Travel During Covid-19

  • Testing for COVID-19: You may be required to present a negative COVID-19 test before you depart and/or upon arrival in your host country. Check what type of test is required and the timeframe for the test's validity (many countries require a negative PCR COVID-19 test within 72 hours of departure). Make sure you pay close attention to the validity period to ensure your negative test result doesn't expire too early, as this could result in you being denied entry to your host country. Consult your local public health website for a list of COVID-19 test sites near you. For testing in Boulder County, review the Boulder County COVID-19 Testing webpage. Review the materials sent by Education Abroad and your provider or host university about entry requirements and expectations abroad. 

  • When traveling internationally, triple-check your host country's entry requirements (see below) before you depart: In addition to providing a negative COVID-19 test like mentioned above, countries may also require the following:

    • Completion of a health form
    • Downloading an app
    • Taking a COVID-19 test upon arrival or within a certain number of days after arrival
    • A quarantine
  • Testing positive prior to departure: If you test positive for COVID-19 in the weeks leading up to your departure, self-isolate and follow instructions from local public health authorities. Next, notify your study abroad program and CU Education Abroad.  You may need to contact your airlines and explore delaying or canceling your flight. 


Entry Requirements by Country

Countries will vary in their requirements. You can review travel regulations for each country, including the United States, using Tripsguard or this IATA map. U.S. embassies also update entry and quarantine requirements on their relevant webpages (see below). Note that this information is frequently changing and may not always be accurate. You should routinely check for updates now and until you depart. Check these resources and follow guidance from Education Abroad and your provider or host university. If you are unsure of the entry or quarantine requirements for your host country, reach out to your Education Abroad program manager or program. 

Pro Tip: Pack a COVID-19 Travel Kit

  • For COVID-19 essentials, don't forget to pack: 
    • Supply of face masks 
    • Alcohol-based hand sanitizer (at least 60% alcohol)
    • Disinfectant wipes (at least 70% alcohol) for surfaces
    • Thermometer
    • Any additional medications
  • COVID-19 Documentation, keep these in your carry-on and make a copy:
    • Negative COVID-19 test results (when applicable) 
    • COVID-19 vaccination card 
  • For non-COVID related packing list items, check out our Packing tips in the Accepted Student Guide

Flying during COVID-19

Traveling to your host country or within the United States is necessary, and with this travel carries risks of exposure. The dynamic nature of both the pandemic and subsequent governmental responses creates significant uncertainties about the ability to complete any journey without unforeseen and significant disruption. In addition, a traveler can inadvertently spark an outbreak in their destination or introduce COVID-19 into their local community upon return from travel. For these reasons, it is important to understand and mitigate these risks as much as possible.

Booking your Flights
  • Book direct flights wherever possible. Avoid layovers in countries other than your departure and host country!  
  • Wait to book your flights until instructed to do so by your study abroad program and/or Education Abroad program manager. If you're unsure, generally you should wait until 30 days before the start of the program to book travel. 
  • Carefully review the airline's cancellation and change policies.

During Your Flight
The good news is, due to how air circulates and is filtered on airplanes, most viruses don't spread easily on flights. However, crowded flights make social distancing difficult.     
  • Mask - Wear it!  Even if this is not mandatory, it is strongly recommended  you wear a mask for your safety
  • Hand sanitizer - Protect yourself after using commonly-touched surfaces such as doorknobs, handles, buttons, etc.
  • Disinfectant wipes - use these on your airplane seat, armrest, and tray table
  • Research your airline's COVID-19 in-flight processes!

Not feeling well on the morning or days leading up to your flight?

It's important to protect yourself and others, especially as COVID-19 can take many days to develop. If you aren't feeling well the day of, or days leading up to your planned travel, it's important to prioritize your health! Contact your airline to consider changing your flight (many airlines have more flexible change policies), contact your program and Education Abroad program manager to let them know, utilize the recommended trip cancellation/interruption insurance, and consider taking a COVID-19 test.

Consider Additional Insurance

We cannot predict the future, but we can prepare for it.  Ed Abroad recommends you purchase additional insurance, such as Cancel for Any Reason (CFAR/IFAR) Insurance.  Note that Global Seminar participants will be automatically enrolled in CFAR Insurance through Education Abroad.

Arriving in Your Host Country

Arriving in your host country is always a unique and different experience, and given these current conditions, it's even more important to be prepared. Ask yourself and talk to your program about what you should expect for the first few days and weeks of your program as you get settled in. 

Your host country may require travelers to quarantine upon arrival. Some countries may also test travelers upon arrival and require quarantine if the traveler tests positive (even if you recently tested negative). There is also the possibility you may need to quarantine midway through your program due to a local outbreak, because you are not feeling well, and/or you test positive for COVID-19. So it is good to be prepared for any of these scenarios:
  • Check with your program or host university to see what support they will provide in case you do have to quarantine. Will they organize meal drop-offs? Will you be able to remain in your housing or will you move into another housing assignment? Is there an emergency number you can call 24/7 if your condition worsens?
  • Make a plan to call or video chat your family and friends and have a support network.
  • Consider what got you through previous stay-at-home orders, either in Boulder or at home. Books? Video games? Your favorite movies? (Be aware, Netflix is different overseas.) Plan ahead for some downtime.
  • If you have to quarantine with a roommate here are some Do's and Don'ts to keep in mind. 

During Your Program

The opportunity to live in a completely new place and experience a new culture requires adjusting to a new (possibly different) academic setting. It may take time to adjust, but know others are likely having a similar experience! In many respects, the keys to a successful program during COVID-19 are similar to a successful semester at CU, or even a pre-COVID program abroad. As you prepare for your program, during your program, and even after you return, keep the following in mind:
  • Be flexible! Conditions, regulations, and recommendations are constantly changing. Have a backup plan for everything, and be open to changing circumstances and adjusted expectations. 

  • Housing: Check with your program to see what your housing options are. Some programs have changed their housing options as a result of COVID-19.  

  • Academics: While many host universities and programs have resumed in-person classes, some universities continue to offer only online classes. Be sure you know what your program's teaching format will be and be prepared for possible changes to this format due to local fluctuations in COVID-19 cases.

  • Respect local COVID-19 customs: You may find that your host country's approach to COVID-19 is different to what you've become accustomed to in your hometown or Boulder. Follow your program and local guidelines, and also be respectful of people who may take a more cautious approach in their personal preferences and boundaries around COVID-19-related precautions. Take the opportunity to learn and ask questions while remembering to approach your local community with grace and respect. 

  • Follow COVID-19 guidelines: There are local laws and guidelines, as well as your program's or host university's rules and requirements, that you will be required to comply with. Guidelines may include wearing masks, refraining from independent travel, and cooperating with recommended COVID-19 testing and contract tracing processes. Many programs will require you to sign a behavioral contract agreeing to these rules. Failure to comply with these rules and guidelines will not only put your health at risk but also the health and wellness of your entire host community.

  • Testing for COVID-19: Testing availability will differ based on your home community and/or host country. Contact your program and/or host university to determine where and when you can get a COVID-19 test on site. COVID-19 tests may incur out-of-pocket expenses. 

  • What to do if you test positive for COVID-19: This will depend on your program, current location, and host country requirements. Isolate, continue to monitor your health, follow local country (state and county) COVID-19 protocols, and inform your program and Education Abroad. 


Independent Travel While Abroad

When talking to those who have studied abroad in the past, they almost always wish they explored their host city more and didn't leave every weekend. This is your chance. Explore your host city, immerse yourself in the culture, and live like a local. You won't regret it! 

Travel  before, during, and after the program may be limited for a few reasons, including the following: 
  • Your program may limit you from traveling outside of your host city and/or country
  • Countries' entry requirements - including who can enter, who needs to quarantine, etc. - are changing frequently
  • Independent travel could result in unexpected interruptions - including completing a quarantine in another country - which could impact your ability to complete your courses
If you’ve started thinking about independent travel plans (including staying in your host country after your program) start by researching relevant entry requirements and program policies. Be sure to talk to your on-site staff before making any travel plans - not only will they have great, insider recommendations, but you will also be able to ensure that what you plan on doing is aligned with the local / program guidance and regulations. 

Returning Home

  • Follow the CDC guidelines for international travelers when returning to the U.S. Recommendations vary based on vaccination status and are subject to change due to the ongoing fluidity of the global response to COVID-19 but may include a required negative COVID-19 test result before departing your host country and/or quarantining upon return to your home community. 
    • If you have questions regarding testing locations, contact your provider and/or local public health office. 
    • Don’t travel if you test positive, immediately isolate yourself, follow public health recommendations, and inform your program and Education Abroad.   
  • When travelingwear a mask, watch your health for signs of illness while traveling, and follow the guidelines of your host country/community. If you have symptoms or are concerned you were exposed to COVID-19, contact your medical provider. 
  • There's a lot that could change between the time you're reading this and the end of your program. In the last few weeks of your program, check the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and state and local county guidance / regulations for the most up-to-date information.