International travel is once again becoming a safe activity for vaccinated individuals as vaccine rollout continues around the world. But according to Dean of Global Education Nick Gozik, Elon University students studying abroad this summer should prepare themselves for an experience different than before the COVID-19 pandemic.
There’s no way to generalize what these differences will look like, Gozik said, considering certain parts of the world are administering vaccines quicker than others. The activities most affected, though, will be restaurant dining and extracurricular traveling.
“It's one thing to be able to go to another country, but once you're in that other place, you may not have the same ability to move around as you would in normal circumstances,” Gozik said.
Prior to being admitted into any university-offered study abroad program, students are required to sign a COVID-19 related liability form, declaring the university is not at fault for any risks associated with traveling abroad. Possible risks include violations of program guidelines, health risks directly associated with COVID-19 and the cancellation of a program if the decision is made by the program provider.
Countries with slower vaccine rollouts, like Italy, are where Gozik believes students will experience the largest differences. This could be challenging for students — according to Communications Director with the Global Education Center Shanna Van Beek, the most popular programs among students are in Italy.
Italy's study abroad program, among many others, was canceled last year due to COVID-19. Gozik said the GEC is trying as hard as they can to prevent the cancelation of these programs.
The U.S. State Department currently lists Italy at a Level 3:Reconsider Travel, indicating a “very high” level of COVID-19 in the country. According to reports from Our World in Data, Italy has fully vaccinated 44.6% of its population.
Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi said the country will permit international tourism as long as travelers obtain a government issued green card. The Italian government said green cards will only be granted to those who have shown proof of vaccination, a recent negative COVID-19 test result or proof of disease immunity.
Currently, tourists with these green cards are permitted to enter the country without quarantining upon arrival. Interstate travel in Italy is limited, though, since certain Italian states still struggling to control the virus have completely closed their borders.
Elon never entirely shutdown its study abroad programs during the pandemic, which is something Gozik said he is proud of. There are four summer programs for students to choose from in Italy, and as of June 8th, none of these programs have been canceled. If cancelation were to happen, the GEC said it would be based on the COVID-19 restrictions in the country.