Colleges should bring back their foreign exchange programs

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Reopening foreign exchange programs is one small step for colleges in returning to normal. Hanohiki/ Adobe Stock

This past year has been a crazy one, filled with ups and downs throughout the never-ending battle against the COVID-19 pandemic. Colleges such as UNLV are only open at less than 25% capacity with limited campus services

However, as more people are vaccinated and the numbers decrease, colleges plan to open up their campus services and potentially bring back their foreign exchange programs. 

Since the latter half of the Spring 2020 semester, college campuses have been shut down, sending both out-of-state and international students home. An entire year later, the UNLV campus has now opened up to about 20 to 25% capacity with a few students returning to the housing. However, the foreign exchange programs remain shut down as the airports have stopped all international flights. 

With small steps being taken to open the campus up once more, the foreign exchange program should once again take place even if it must be in small steps. International flights may have been grounded for a time, but plans to reopen them once more are ongoing. 

US airlines plan to open up their borders at a slow pace, meaning that they will be keeping a close eye on the rates as international travel commences. The airlines will be watching the rates between April and May to see if either a spike or lag occurs. According to CNTraveler, if there is no drastic increase in cases, airlines could be fully reopened by early October. 

As airways become more hopeful about reopening their international routes fully by early fall, colleges should look at potentially reviving their foreign exchange programs. The experiences and knowledge that each ingoing and outgoing student gained from traveling is a highlight in many’s college lives. Being able to go on an adventure for a semester allowed students to feel independent, allowing them to see the world and grow as people. 

Since the pandemic, students have been quarantined and stuck at home as many still are doing full online classes despite the open on-campus classes. Many have been experiencing increased stress and anxiety since the pandemic with no place to escape from their thoughts. 

By opening up the foreign exchange program once more, college students will have the option to study abroad and take a break from being cooped up. Also, international students can return to UNLV and other colleges once more to continue where they left off or to start anew on an exciting, fun-filled journey. 

While the foreign exchange student programs could commence again in the fall semester as airways begin to open up more, it will not be an immediate reopening. Since the pandemic is still lingering with new variants popping up, the programs may have to start with allowing only a certain amount of students back. Colleges will most likely start at 20 to 25% of students in and outgoing, offering the other online classes. 

While the pandemic still hinders returning to a normal world, taking a small step in reopening the foreign exchange programs is beneficial in the long run. It allows colleges to return to a semi-normalcy, and students get the chance to get away from the constraints and worries of the pandemic. Reviving the foreign exchange programs will benefit both the college and students while simultaneously taking us ever closer back to a fully normal college experience.

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