When COVID-19 spread worldwide, University of the Pacific students saw their chances of studying abroad vanish in the blink of an eye.

However, now UOP has made the decision to allow students to begin their studies abroad once again, but with precautions in place.

University of the Pacific will have students starting a study abroad program to South Korea as early as this fall. The university will also launch their biggest study abroad faculty-led portfolio yet, with six programs beginning in summer 2022.

“Summer 2022 really seems far enough out for us to be able to have exciting portfolios of programs for a wide variety of majors and a variety of destinations,” said Derek Bradley, assistant director of Education Abroad at UOP.

Previously UOP students were pre-approved for international studies, but now they will be selected on a case-by-case basis.

The university has now implemented a 17-question petition where students answer critical questions regarding how they would react in an emergency situation and what they would do in unforeseen circumstances while studying in another country.

“In this new era, we really can’t predict what’s going to happen, so we want students to be prepared for the unexpected situations,” Bradley said.

Despite some traveling fears due to COVID, a survey sent out in January to students regarding interest in studying abroad showed many students willing to study overseas.

“I sent it out to my mailing list, that had been in touch with me and previously expressed interest and I thought I’d get mixed results,” Bradley said. “I got twice the hits of my own pool … so basically COVID doubled my numbers in terms of interest in study abroad.”

Bradley said the way the university is handling the pandemic in general is by having students stay up-to-date on what vaccinations or requirements their desired place of study has.

“We are currently not planning to require COVID vaccinations, but on a case-by-case basis students may need to deal with quarantines or vaccinations based on where they are intending to go,” Bradley said.

Ryan Griffith, director of International Programs and Services at UOP, said they want to ensure students that studying abroad is still possible despite current circumstances.

“The participants going overseas this fall, as they begin to return, we hope to leverage their experiences and let folks know that yes, COVID has changed the world, but if you are thoughtful and take requisite steps to protect yourself and protect others, you can be successful overseas,” Griffith said.

Victoria Franco is a Stockton-based reporter covering the diverse news around the Central Valley as part of the Report for America program. As a Stockton native, Franco is proud to cover stories within her community and report a variety of coverage. She is a San Jose State University alumna with a Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism. In her collegiate years she was Managing Editor for the Spartan Daily. From her time at the Spartan Daily she helped lead her staff to California College Media Awards and a General Excellence first place. Victoria encourages readers to email her story tips and ideas at victoria.franco@baycitynews.com.