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Studying Abroad During the Pandemic

Global Temple Conference

Temple University remains committed to providing students with meaningful global learning opportunities amidst the pandemic. We continue to closely monitor the impact of COVID-19 worldwide and to keep students, their families, and our partners informed. Decisions about supporting travel are made in collaboration with University leadership and International Risk Management and are based on the local conditions in the host country as it relates to COVID-19, healthcare accessibility, and other safety concerns, as well as the student support protocols of the program. Our evaluation is informed by advisories from the U.S. Department of State, the Centers for Disease Control, International SOS, and health authorities in the host country.

While studying abroad during a pandemic may look different than past student experiences, it remains a unique and valuable experience to learn firsthand how host countries address current-day challenges. As has always been true of study abroad, your ability to have a safe and successful experience depends as much on your own preparedness and actions as it does on your program’s support. The nature of traveling during the pandemic requires students to maintain a high level of flexibility due to ever-changing country-specific entry requirements, case trends abroad and at home, and cultural norms of masking, social distancing, and COVID-safe behavior.

Education Abroad and Overseas Campuses is here to support you from your initial interest through preparation. We provide general information on this page about what to expect from studying abroad during COVID-19. If you are planning to study abroad at Temple Rome, Temple Japan or Temple in Spain, please review program-specific information at the links below. We will share similar information with students studying on confirmed Education Abroad summer 2022 programs, while students studying on an exchange or external programs should be sure to familiarize themselves with their program’s protocols.

*updates scheduled for these programs in mid-to-late-June (or on-site partners distributing information in the days leading up to departure)

COVID-19 in your destination

The trajectory of COVID-19 varies widely from region to region. Being a prepared traveler includes researching the COVID-19 trends in your destination, such as case numbers, rate of vaccination, impact on the healthcare system, and public response to the pandemic. International Risk Management has a wealth of information on pre-travel considerations. We also recommend reviewing host government websites as they also can be a helpful tool.

As a visitor in your host country, you should understand the measures your host community has taken to combat the spread of COVID-19 and comply with any local rules related to social distancing, face coverings, and any other community minded behaviors. The best practices for protecting yourself and others against COVID-19, besides vaccination, have not changed significantly since the pandemic started.

Preparing to travel

In the weeks leading up to your departure, it's important to take extra precautions to avoid contracting COVID-19, which would mean delaying or canceling your study abroad plans.

  • Quarantine or limit your movements to only the essential in the week or two before your flight.
  • Avoid gatherings, particularly those indoors where people are unmasked and that involve individuals from outside your household.
  • Get tested for COVID-19, if required for entry to your host country, and travel with your negative results and COVID-19 vaccination card. 
  • Do not travel if you have symptoms of illness, have been exposed to a confirmed case of COVID-19, are awaiting test results for suspected infection or close contact, or have tested positive yourself. 
  • If you are unable to travel as planned, contact your program or Education Abroad to discuss your options.

Entry and exit requirements

Entry requirements for your host country may include a negative COVID-19 test, proof of vaccination and/or an up-to-date booster against COVID-19, special forms/documents, and/or a required quarantine period upon arrival to your destination. Some countries currently prohibit U.S. citizens from entering entirely, and limit entry to the U.S. travelers with certain visas. Research your destination for the most up-to-date requirements. 

When returning to the U.S, a negative COVID-19 test is no longer required for boarding your flight, a change that went into effect on June 20, 2022. 

Local restrictions

In many countries, restrictions on personal movements and business operations have been more significant than in the U.S. and at times, strictly enforced by local authorities. Ensure you understand if and when limitations on travel, gathering size, curfews, etc. would be enacted in your destination. Perhaps most importantly, understand how universities in the host country are permitted to operate during the pandemic and whether they can proceed with in-person classes. In some countries, restrictions are dictated at the national level, while others are decided regionally or locally.

Vaccination status

Temple University requires all students to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 and strongly recommends receiving a COVID-19 booster before traveling internationally.   

What is Temple’s vaccination requirement for international travel, and how do I comply?  

  • To meet Temple’s vaccination requirement, you must have received your COVID-19 primary vaccination series.
  • Accepted study abroad students will be required to upload proof of COVID-19 vaccination to Temple’s Student Health Portal. Visit your study abroad portal for your program’s deadline. 
  • If you were vaccinated outside of the U.S., please visit the CDC’s website for the list of CDC-accepted COVID-19 vaccines. If you have received a vaccine that is not CDC-accepted, and you will not complete the primary series of a CDC-accepted vaccine by the deadline, follow the instructions for non-vaccinated students below. 

Am I required to get a COVID-19 booster for international travel?  

Many countries, and some study abroad partner organizations, require a COVID-19 booster to enter the country, forego an arrival quarantine, attend classes, travel, and/or participate in daily life activities. Requirements can change at any time. Even if a booster is not required for your country/program at this time, having the COVID-19 booster adds assurance that you will be able to participate fully in your program and life in your host country.  

I am not vaccinated for COVID-19. Can I study abroad?  

All Temple and non-Temple students must be fully vaccinated or have an approved international travel exemption from Temple to study abroad. If you do not anticipate being fully vaccinated (with your primary series) for COVID-19 for your study abroad program, contact Education Abroad immediately to begin the vaccination exemption petition process.  

Temple’s 2-step vaccination exemption petition for international travel process applies to Temple and Non-Temple students and includes:  

  • Step 1: Temple’s standard process for reviewing any medical or religious exemption request  
  • Step 2: International travel vaccination exemption request form  

Both steps are due shortly after your program application deadline and extensions are not possible. For your program’s deadlines, visit your study abroad portal. 

Please note, exemption petitions are reviewed on a case-by-case basis by Temple’s elevated/high risk committee for international travel, and approval is not guaranteed, even if you already have a vaccination exemption approval for Temple’s U.S. campuses or your home institution. The committee considers factors including, but not limited to, circumstances on the ground in the destination country, current/anticipated travel conditions, and a student’s understanding of the academic, financial, and travel risks associated with studying abroad unvaccinated. 

Testing, tracing and isolation

The accessibility of COVID-19 testing also varies in different parts of the world. In many locations, tests are available only to symptomatic or exposed individuals, and facilitated solely by public health officials. Before you travel, learn how to get a COVID-19 test and how contact tracing works; some countries require residents to download and utilize a contact tracing app. If you are symptomatic or exposed, you will need to quarantine or isolate either at home or, as is required in many Asian countries, a government-run facility. Have a plan for getting food and necessities in advance so you are prepared for whatever arises.

Also consider your contingency plan if you test positive at the end of your program, as a negative test is required to return to the U.S.

Academic delivery and continuity

Classes may be conducted in-person, online, or through a hybrid approach depending on your program and the local COVID-19 situation. Make sure you are aware of how you will continue your courses if you need to quarantine or isolate or if a stay-at-home order is issued in your location. Prepare for how you will obtain meals and essentials, take care of laundry, etc, and what support your program will provide if you can’t attend classes in person for any length of time.

International travel policy

During the pandemic, all Temple University-affiliated international travel, including study abroad, is subject to review and approval by Global Health, Safety, and Security and where applicable, the Elevated/High Risk Travel Committee, as defined in the university’s International Travel Policy. If the risk level in your intended destination changes and/or the health environment deteriorates after you have been approved to study abroad, the University reserves the right to rescind authorization or revise the conditions of travel.

Financial risks and backup plans

It's important to consider all costs associated with your program and review any refund policies carefully before you make a financial commitment. Do not purchase a flight until your program has instructed you to, and once you do, we recommend purchasing flights with the most flexible change and refund policies, in case there are last minute changes to your program or participation. 

Temple University is unable to assist with any costs associated with a student’s inability to participate in a program, early departure from a program, program modifications or cancellations, or other unforeseen expenses due to COVID-19 including but not limited to testing costs, additional isolation/quarantine room or board expenses, and cancellation/change fees. 

Conditions can change on the ground that can affect your program's ability to host students on site, or impact your comfort level with traveling. To protect funds committed toward a study abroad experience we encourage you to consider purchasing individual trip cancellation insurance which is available through many travel agents and insurance companies. This type of insurance can be financially helpful in the event of unexpected personal or global events that could impact your participation in a study abroad program. 

Temple University does not endorse or recommend any specific trip cancellation insurance provider, but one such option is offered by CISI. Travel insurance policies vary, so be sure to understand covered expenses, acceptable trip cancellation reasons, and exclusions before purchasing a plan. Carefully review the exclusions related to pandemics and COVID-19. 

Consider having a backup plan for attending classes on your home campus. You may also want to consider having a backup study abroad program. You are encouraged to consider applying to a backup program in case your first-choice study abroad program does not run or you can no longer participate. Our Program Managers can advise you on how to proceed based on your intended study abroad location and term.

Personal travel

The study abroad experience, especially in Europe, has often included weekend or break trips to other countries. During the pandemic, travel outside of your host country is strongly discouraged. Travel restrictions and entry criteria can change with little notice and traveling outside your program country increases the risk of being unable to return as planned. Education Abroad cannot provide support to students who travel independently outside their host country and experience a travel disruption. We encourage you to use your time abroad to immerse yourself in your new home and limit your travel outside of the country to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission or complications with crossing borders and/or quarantine requirements.

Visitors

Some countries are permitting international students to enter during the pandemic but not tourists, so family and friends may not be permitted to visit program participants. Research the entry requirements for tourists to your destination if you intend to host visitors during your term abroad. Note that overnight guests are not permitted in student housing.

As always, we recommend families have a valid passport to travel in case of an emergency abroad. 

COVID-19 Acknowledgement of Risks

All program participants will be asked to sign Education Abroad’s standard Assumption of Risk and Release Form in their online application, which includes acknowledgement of COVID-19 related risks.