Global plans for the future in uncertain times

Study abroad applications are now open for the summer of 2021, though plans are still COVID-19 pending.


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One of the many temples at the Ancient City located in Samut Prakan, Thailand. This was one of the many sights that a group of Hamline students saw during their study away during J-Term of 2020.

Manik, Senior Reporter

A year since students were recalled from their spring semester study abroad, applications have opened at Hamline for study way opportunities this summer. 

“For right now, things look promising in certain countries, in other countries not so much. It is sort of like a waiting pattern that we’re in,” said Kate Meyer, faculty lead and study away coordinator in the global engagement center (GEC). “Applications are open, but again, we advise students that it might not happen and to have a plan B ready to go just in case.” 

Since last spring, the GEC has been frequently checking international conditions to ensure safety and the best possible outcome for students. Their checking includes things like determining dormitory situations and social distancing and event planning. 

As of now, no country appears to have a vaccine requirement for entering. Currently, most airlines and countries are requiring either/both a COVID-19 test and/or a quarantine period. 

Prior to COVID-19, anywhere from 100-120 students would be traveling in any of the over 100 different partner options Hamline has established or the 20+ Hamline exchange options. Partner options are still operating in some capacities, however, Hamline is not approving travel at this time and has not been for the past number of months. 

Some programs and applications may require a down payment. The GEC understands the financial commitment this can be and a few years ago, Hamline made the switch to have students pay for the cost of the program and the application fee when the semester begins. 

It works similarly now. If the program does not run as previously planned, students are not out their money on the Hamline side and the GEC works with the program providers if students have paid any fees with them. They work to waive it or put it towards a different term.

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A sunset view on Kata Beach in Karon,
Thailand, a popular tourist destination.

“That has really helped with some of the early financial burdens and roadblocks… for students trying to figure out this study abroad… ” said Meyer. “A lot of our program provider friends have been very flexible because they also understand that even $75 is a big chunk of money for a student so it’s not going to be to waste. It will either be used for another term or hopefully, we can work to get it refunded.”

Last spring, the GEC was able to scholarship students who experienced extra expenses due to flight fees or other needs. 

“I think that is something we are going to have to do more going forward in the world that we are in. It just shows that emergency planning is critical,” said Meyer. “So far Hamline has done a decent job but I think having more budgets to extract students should we need to without having to worry about finances is something I think is a win-win for everyone.” 

Institutionally, professors are beginning to plan study away programs for the semesters in the near future. Hamline tries to offer three to four faculty-led study away programs each year. 

Letitia Basford, Associate Professor and CTL Faculty Director in the Education Department, is in the process of planning a trip to England about global migration slated for this August. If COVID-19 conditions do not improve, the program will be postponed to the January term of 2022. 

Ryan LeCount, associate professor and chair of the Sociology Department, has plans for teaching away in Hawaii in January 2022. He is also considering proposing a 2022 May term in Argentina.

The pandemic has made it clear just how much it is possible to integrate remote interaction and learning into all that we have historically done in physical spaces together,” said LeCount. “I have begun to imagine a lot of possibilities for the pre-travel portion of the courses in team building, course instruction and discussion, and even “meeting” people, places and groups we might spend time with later — and doing all of this via Zoom or otherwise virtually. This might be a great supplement to what we’ve done in the past.

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The Buddha statue at the Ancient City located in Samut Prakan in Thailand. Ten students traveled with Professor Suda Ishida to study environmental journalism and report on real-world events.

Leif Hembre, professor in the Biology Department, is also in the process of creating a study away program for January of 2022 in Belize. He has led this before in recent years. The latest of which was during the Zika virus. The organization this program works through, Monkey Bay, handled that situation carefully and safely. 

“I think probably lots of students are eager to do some real stuff, not to say that we can’t learn through distance learning but I know for myself being able to do actual experiences in the world is something I’m excited about and I’m happy that we’re starting to do a little bit more now…” said Leif. “I’ll be ready and willing academically to lead the course should it be allowed.” 

With any questions or concerns, the GEC can be reached at: or by phone at 651-523-2245