The Florence study abroad program is shutting down for the fall along with six other abroad programs. The International Programs office has since created new priority deadlines for upcoming semesters. File photo
CORRECTION: The priority deadline for IP applications is Sept. 21. The date was incorrectly reported in the original version of this story.
Even after fall closures, Pepperdine’s International Programs is plowing ahead for future semesters, starting with the announcement of priority deadlines for summer 2021 abroad programs.
“We are always planning ahead by three or four semesters, so we will continue with that,” Jennifer Ryan, associate director of the London program, said.
Without students on campus, each abroad program has more time to make needed adjustments. These projects range from reorganization to updates.
“We are currently focusing on projects that we sometimes find it hard to have time for,” Ryan said. “Additionally, it is a good opportunity for us to overhaul our library and reorganize certain aspects of our house.”
Sophomore Jada Okhiria said each program is working hard to start forming guidelines for the eventual return of Pepperdine students. Okhiria said she plans to be a Resident Advisor for the Florence program. The programs are working to create the best environment for returning faculty and students.
“When the Pepperdine London house reopens for students, we will adhere to all the COVID-19 guidelines issued,” Ryan said. “Safety of the students, faculty and staff will always be paramount.”
Guidelines for each program will follow restrictions and rules set in each country.
Pepperdine announced the closing of a majority of international programs July 9, forcing many students to re-evaluate academic plans for the fall. Washington, D.C., was the final program to close July 22, around the same time Pepperdine announced online classes.
The International Programs office has already announced the deadlines to apply for abroad programs for summer 2021, fall 2021, spring 2022 and the school year of 2021–2022. The office is moving ahead with a Sept. 21 priority deadline, following with an interview deadline of Oct. 6 and a priority decision day of Oct. 16.
“The biggest change is that for the first time ever, there will be no international programs running this fall,” Ryan said. “COVID-19 has brought the entire world to a standstill.”
The office asked students previously enrolled in an abroad program to sign a deferment paper, requesting students to defer to spring 2021.
“I don’t think they should be doing applications right now,” sophomore Madelyn Griffith said.
Griffith was set to be a Resident Advisor for the Heidelberg program but will be re-applying for the fall deadlines so she can “have the full abroad experience,” she said. Griffith and many other eager students are waiting on final decisions to be made once more guidelines come out.
“I wish they could find a way to make sure we get to go abroad,” Griffith said.
Schools in the London area are starting to reopen, contributing to a positive outlook for the students ready to study abroad. Universities in England, however, have taken a similar approach to the United States.
“Some universities are teaching online only, and some are doing a mix of online and in-person,” said Ryan. “They are predicting possible temporary local lockdowns but hopefully not a national one again.”
The programs are encouraging students to remain hopeful about the spring semester, according to an email sophomore Connie Nong received.
Nong said she plans to attend Heidelberg in the spring. She, like many other students planning to go abroad, organized her course load to accommodate for her time overseas.
“With the way I planned my four years, it doesn’t make sense for me to go any other time,” Nong said.
Decisions for spring abroad programs are still being made, while travel restrictions in Europe remain in place.
“I’m hoping we can still go abroad so we can have some normalcy,” Nong said.
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