Study abroad, a hallmark of a University of Denver education, returned in fall 2021 after a year of pandemic shutdowns.
The 376 students who studied overseas this fall went to 26 countries on five continents, with Spain and the United Kingdom the top destinations.
To ensure student safety, DU relied on testing, contact tracing, masking, vaccinations and an assessment from the University’s international travel risk analyst, Courtney Niebrzydowski.
Before the pandemic, Niebrzydowski, who collaborates closely with the Office of International Education, would evaluate risks and coordinate resources whenever a new program was added to the portfolio. Now she reviews every program almost weekly.
“How do we best prepare our travelers and mitigate risk? We prompt travelers to evaluate associated travel risks and their personal risk thresholds; we work with partners abroad who provide excellent in-country support; we offer an array of resources available before departure and while abroad,” Niebrzydowski says.
She also reviews other support structures and health-care capacity. “Not only just if a student were to contract COVID,” she says. “More likely, all the other medical things that come up—the unexpected appendicitis, or the trip and fall and broken ankle or wrist.”
In March 2020, DU was one of the first institutions to recall its students from abroad. Thanks to routine exercises simulating large-scale emergencies in international settings, the study abroad team is well-prepared to handle emergencies.
While the number of study abroad participants is down from prepandemic numbers, the fall quarter count signals continuing interest in one of DU’s signature programs.