For the first time in over two years, spring terms are in full swing as the number of options students have to choose either a domestic or abroad spring term has increased to pre-COVID standards.
Restrictions in response to COVID-19 made it so that Alma College, as well as many other institutions, suspended any kind of long-distance travel to ensure the safety and well-being of their students, including spring terms that would require studying abroad.
But as the threat of COVID has decreased due to the distribution of vaccines and safe practices such as wearing masks, it has become increasingly safe to travel abroad.
For the past couple of years, spring terms have been mostly limited to on-campus courses or to those only requiring domestic travel. For example, last year an education class traveled to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida to learn about the necessary leadership skills in the classroom.
“We had learning sessions throughout the day but also were able to experience all that Disney had to offer – the rides, the food and everything,” said Dani Dumoulin (’24).
“Dr. Peggy Yates tailored this course for college students to learn key information about teaching, but still getting to have fun as we were away from school,” said Dumoulin.
Dumoulin utilized her Venture Grant, which made her trip as affordable as possible. The application for the grant was very simple as well.
“During the beginning of winter semester/late fall, the application becomes available. You have to write a letter to the board of Venture Grant explaining why you want to take this spring term, why it applies to your future career and how the funding will help you in the course,” said Dumoulin.
If your application gets approved by the board, the money “goes directly to your student account,” said Dumoulin.
In order to take a travel spring term, it is important to “gather as much information about the course as possible, including attending the fall information session(s) and talking with the course instructor for more information, as spring term travel varies greatly from course to course,” said Carla Jensen, Director of Experiential Learning.
Travel spring terms fill up very quickly and the application process typically starts in the fall semester, so if students missed out on the opportunity to take a travel spring term this year, they should look for many new options to come next fall semester.
However, if students plan on traveling this spring, it is important to take the necessary health and safety precautions. Every student deserves to feel safe, no matter where they travel, even though the threats of COVID may be mostly over.
“The Wilcox Health Center serves as a travel clinic and students traveling internationally can make an appointment there to consult about travel health questions and concerns and pre-order vaccines, based on the CDC traveler’s health guidelines and what is recommended or required for their specific destination,” said Jensen.
If students ever have any questions about other ways they can travel abroad, they should contact Carla Jensen, whose office is in the CSO. With her, students can “explore additional off-campus study opportunities during the summer, fall and winter, as well as spring term,” said Jensen.
Overall, spring terms are a great way to learn about a subject more deeply, meanwhile exposing students to a brand-new environment.
“I definitely would recommend this experience to other students,” said Dumoulin. “We got to have fun while learning at the same time, which often is hard to do during a confined semester in the fall or winter.”
Furthermore, “Travel spring terms are also available for a variety of majors which makes it possible to find traveling somewhere you want to (bucket list places maybe) while also learning about interesting things,” said Dumoulin.