Abroad Again, Naturally
Of all the Hamilton programs interrupted by the pandemic, off-campus study was perhaps the most severely affected. However, this semester, students are once again pursuing academic interests far away from the Hill. To understand how Hamilton’s programs are readjusting, we asked Assistant Dean of Off-Campus Study Carolyn North and several students located around the world. Below are some of their thoughts.
Carolyn North, assistant dean of off-campus study
How many Hamilton students are studying abroad this semester?
77 students, which includes those in our Boston, New York City, and Washington, D.C., programs in addition to all who are abroad.
What countries are represented?
Spain, France, Panama, Morocco, Czech Republic, Denmark, the UK, Mexico, Germany, South Korea, Hungary, Switzerland, and Portugal
About two-thirds of Hamilton students take part in off-campus study opportunities that range from the College’s highly rated language programs in China, France, and Spain to internships with Hamilton’s D.C. and NYC programs to field research with program providers in places like New Zealand and Costa Rica.
Are the Hamilton programs full?
France and Spain are operating as “full,” but we are also limiting enrollments in order to create a safe learning environment. Our program in China, ACC Beijing, was the first to close when the pandemic began and remains closed through at least spring 2022.
How do the numbers compare to pre-COVID semesters?
Roughly I would say we have about 150 students abroad in a typical fall semester, although it seems the number goes up each year.
What precautions have been introduced?
COVID protocols abroad resemble those practiced on campus. We require that students are vaccinated or have approved exemptions, do regular testing, wear masking in our instructional spaces, and limit density in shared spaces. We have restricted or even prohibited travel within and beyond the host country.
A silver lining has been that by confining travel to Spain, I’ve had more opportunities to explore and learn more about Spain specifically, which is very cool.
Finlay Adamson ’22: Bocas del Toro, Panama
I’m in Bocas del Toro, on the Caribbean side of Panama, studying environmental sustainability and marine ecosystems. I was planning on studying abroad my junior year but COVID changed my plans. I’m really happy about how it ended up; I would never have studied abroad in Panama if my circumstances had not changed so much. I’ve learned a lot about coral reef ecosystems and the fish that inhabit them, models of sustainable development, and the culture of Panama. Everyone is incredibly friendly and welcoming — even though I speak little Spanish.
Lara Speer ’23: Copenhagen, Denmark
I am studying psychology and education in Copenhagen through the DIS Copenhagen program. I always knew I wanted to go abroad while in college, but wasn’t sure where I wanted to go. I had considered Australia or New Zealand early on; once it came time to apply, however, their borders were still closed. The COVID numbers are pretty low and stable in Denmark, which means that there are little to no restrictions in place. We don’t have to wear masks indoors, we don’t have to distance, and we are free to travel in and out of the country! However, when traveling outside of the country, it is important to research other countries’ restrictions/entry requirements and adjust travel accordingly.
Gregory Varney ’22: Madrid, Spain
I wanted to go to Madrid last fall, and when that was canceled, I thought I could go last spring — but it seems third time’s the charm because I’m finally here! Certain activities, like the nightlife, have been slower due to government restrictions, and of course we’ve worn masks in all indoor spaces. But as the COVID situation in Spain has been improving significantly and quickly, restrictions are being lifted. A silver lining has been that by confining travel to Spain, I’ve had more opportunities to explore and learn more about Spain specifically, which is very cool.
Josh Zeldon ’23: Paris, France
Prior to arriving, I honestly didn’t think I would be able to come because of the COVID situation, but I am so grateful that I arrived just fine. Although COVID did affect me and the other students here in some ways — such as the inability to leave France this semester, having to follow strict sanitary rules set in place by the country, and a loss of an orientation trip — I have had an amazing experience thus far. Since I am staying here for the academic year, I am trying to explore as much of France as I can this semester and, hopefully, as COVID regulations go down, explore the rest of Europe the following semester.