Real Talk: So…How Do I Plan for Study Abroad During a Pandemic?

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IES Abroad
April 8, 2020
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When everything feels like it’s up in the air, it might seem difficult to know where to start planning your study abroad experience. But—the world is still out there, and one day soon you will be able to safely venture back out and explore your passions. With that in mind, we put together this handy resource guide, so that you can start now and check off all those boxes as you prepare for the future. 

Let’s talk: Mindset

  • Revisit your goals

Whether you’re more of a vision board, journal, or spreadsheet kind of person, spend some time envisioning what you want the study abroad experience of your dreams to look like. Consider locations or programs you hadn’t considered before. Think about how to creatively maximize your time on campus so you can ensure a semester abroad. There’s no harm in brainstorming—so have fun thinking of endless possibilities! 


  • Allow yourself to get excited

Everyone copes with uncertainty in different ways, but we want you to know it’s totally okay to be excited about studying abroad (We can’t wait to get back out there and explore, too!). Sure, you may have a few more questions and considerations than before—we all do. But that desire you have to travel outside of your comfort zone? That drive to learn more about yourself and the world around you? Those are wonderful—and valid—traits to possess. 


  • Know that we prioritize your safety and well-being

At IES Abroad, we use a comprehensive, student-first approach in everything we do. Know that we are taking your health and safety, as well as your financial commitment, very seriously. We receive real-time updates about COVID-19 from the CDC and WHO and consult daily with our onsite faculty and staff at each of our program locations. We have over 70 years of experience prioritizing students' health, safety, and well-being while you study abroad in an ever-changing global landscape.

Let’s talk: Logistics

  • Meet your new BFF: Flexibility

The past few months have really been an exercise in flexibility for all of us. There will always be things we can't predict, but now is the time in the process where you actually can exercise some control. Make a list of your top three programs, rather than focusing on just one. Explore options in multiple countries or continents. Talk to your advisors about the pros and cons of going abroad this fall or next spring. Flexibility isn't about getting rid of your plans—it's about adapting them to better suit changing needs. When you're open to multiple possibilities, you create more opportunities for success. 


  • Let inspiration lead the way

Now more than ever you can really dedicate time to learning about all of our programs from, who else? The students themselves! Our student bloggers and social media Correspondents captured their daily, authentic, on-the-ground experiences abroad. Our Study Abroad Film Festival Finalists and Winners used their filmmaking skills to share timeless stories of discovery and connection. Our Global Citizens had inspiring semesters abroad that helped them define their sense of place in their local and global communities. Plus, our Ambassadors are here to answer any questions that you have about what your semester abroad could entail. 


  • Have honest conversations with your family

It’s a great time to touch base about everyone's feelings regarding study abroad. Chat with your family—it can be incredibly helpful to know where they’re coming from. If your family was already a little concerned about safety while abroad, this might feel difficult to discuss, but it’s still really important. You’re not alone, though. Our Health and Safety resources are here to facilitate these conversations, so you and your family can stay informed about COVID-19 while you make your plans.

Let’s talk: Next Steps

  • Start your application (ahem, it's free)

We know that sometimes the hardest part is just getting started. Our application is free, so you don’t have to worry about putting any money down while you explore your options. And, just because you apply, doesn’t mean you are locked in to that particular program. Submitting an application is a great way to get the ball rolling on going abroad this fall. 


We wanted to give you plenty of time to talk through all of your options with your school’s study abroad office, your professors, and your families as well as our IES Abroad advisors and Ambassadors. Need more time? Skip ahead and submit an application for Spring 2021.


  • Familiarize yourself with our new Refund Policy 

We know that you might still have questions moving forward, and that’s okay. We crafted a new refund policy to better reflect these changing times. If for some reason you cannot participate in your Fall 2020 program, you will be fully refunded—including your deposit. Learn more about our Refund Policy for Fall 2020.

A world of possibility awaits you this fall—check out our full list of programs as well as scholarships and aid. Read more about the student experience in our students’ own words. Follow us on Instagram for even more study abroad inspiration.

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