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DU’s Study Abroad Program On Its Way Back to Normal

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Emma Atkinson

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For most DU students, cooling temperatures and falling leaves are a signal to pack up and head back to campus for the start of a new quarter. But some won’t experience fall in Denver this year—they will be immersed in study abroad experiences.

Emelee Volden, director of DU’s Office of International Education, says students participating in the University’s Cherrington Global Scholars program were able to choose from more than 100 study abroad programs for the fall, winter and spring of this year. This year, she says, is the most normal-looking year for study abroad since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

emelee volden
Emelee Volden.

“We don’t expect students to have difficulty on trains or flights for COVID purposes,” Volden says. “We know that our partners are able to pivot to virtual learning very quickly, if needed, but we’re seeing that less and less—both here in the U.S., but abroad as well. There’s still the kind of, ‘COVID will continue to surprise us,’ message, but not to the degree that we've been navigating for two and a half years.”

Volden says one of the most significant difficulties facing students studying abroad during the pandemic was the uncertainty about in-person versus virtual learning. Fortunately, that uncertainty has mostly waned. She says her office now faces challenges that are more administrative in nature.

“Right now, what we’re dealing with is just immigration chaos; because embassies are understaffed, they’re all dealing with increased student visa applications,” Volden says.

Despite obstacles past and present, DU is sending 593 students to international locations this fall, with an additional 51 students headed abroad for the winter and spring quarters.

That sizeable number is largely due to the hard work of the staff in Volden’s department, as well as the DU community as a whole.

“There’s a lot of support by the academic departments and the faculty,” she says. “That is a genuinely good change for me and my other new staff, where there’s just a general support of study abroad from faculty on campus who support these international experiences, and the opportunities and transformations that they bring for our students.”

DU’s commitment to study abroad is exemplified by the Cherrington program, which offers students financial support for their international experiences. Cherrington is not a scholarship, but rather a financial benefit, which means it doesn’t affect students’ other financial aid awards.

In addition to paying for tuition at the host university, Cherrington offers a stipend for round-trip airfare and reimburses students for the cost of their student visas.

“It’s quite humbling to mention this to colleagues of mine in the field, and everyone is just baffled by an institution that really puts this kind of level of support behind education abroad,” Volden says.


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