Following a year and a half of lockdowns, online classes, curfews and safety protocols, Coline Lehnhoff felt cooped up, wanting to get out and see the world. Now, this French exchange student is studying ecology at Utah State University.
During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, travel halted. This included study abroad opportunities, internships – nearly all traveling entirely. Fortunately, the danger of COVID-19 across the world is slowly decreasing due to vaccine availability. Although there is still some caution, a lot of those opportunities are open again.
Lehnhoff had always wanted to visit the United States. As a child, she thought the U.S. was trendy, popular and had an amazing culture. The pandemic did not curb her enthusiasm and desire to study abroad. She wanted to study in the U.S. for several reasons, including advancing her English, experiencing new cultures and meeting new people.
France handled COVID-19 like the U.S., with lockdowns, online courses and curfews. At universities, there was very little student life. Most students had to move back home, and there were few social events.
Although restrictions are being lifted, the remaining limitations on social events and traveling might worry some regarding the constraints on a study abroad experience. Lehnhoff’s experience thus far has been unconstrained, with in-person classes, weekend trips to national parks and enjoying Logan’s beautiful landscape.
“I don’t feel like COVID is a big thing anymore, because there are so many events every day,” said Lehnhoff.
Before departing to the U.S., Lehnhoff was vaccinated and understood all the risks of traveling. The danger of COVID-19 was at the back of her mind, however: She was more worried about being away from her family for so long.
Lehnhoff has described her study abroad experience at USU as once-in-a-lifetime. Everyone she has met has been friendly and welcoming.
“Even if you’re scared or if you’re not sure, just go. It’s crazy to discover another country and other people,” said Lehnhoff. “Give it a chance – you won’t regret it.”
USU domestic and international students can participate in study abroad through exchange programs, like Lehnhoff, or through faculty-led programs available in spring and summer 2022. The study abroad office will host a virtual study abroad fair for faculty-led programs on Nov. 10 online from 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. with Zoom sessions with faculty who are leading programs in 2022. Interested students can make an appointment with a study abroad advisor and search programs online.