Covid-19 and Spring 2022 Marshall Exchange Program FAQs

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USC has approved limited options for study abroad travel in Fall 2021 and Spring 2022 to select countries for semester programs (see memo).

The information below pertains only to semester abroad programs offered by the USC Marshall Undergraduate Office of International Programs. Please find below our most frequently asked questions.

I see that Marshall has opened their Spring 2022 study abroad applications. Does this mean programs will run next fall?

Although spring applications are opening, this does not guarantee that all Marshall study abroad programs will run in the spring.  The only programs approved for travel by the university are semester-length programs to the following countries*:

Austria

Belgium

Budapest

Chile

China (May run only for local students if China does not issue visas)

Denmark

Finland

France

Germany

Hong Kong

Israel

Italy

Netherlands

Portugal

 

Singapore

South Korea

Spain

Switzerland

 

Taiwan

Thailand

UK

*There is always the possibility that certain programs will no longer be feasible, given border closures, worsening outbreaks, visa processing issues, travel advisory notices and host institution closures, among other factors. Our office will keep applicants updated throughout this process and will work to notify applicants as soon as possible regarding any changes.  Applicants should also monitor the situation in their destination country and should review the resources listed below.

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How will USC determine which programs can run?

U.S. Department of State Travel Alerts and Advisories, U.S. Centers for Disease Control advisories, U.S. embassies' and consulates' Public Announcements, private companies such as International SOS, the travel advice of other governments, news sources, the resident directors and international student offices at the study abroad sites, and other information sources are all instrumental in informing University decisions. 

Decisions by host universities on whether or not a program will run are at the discretion of those institutions, as well as contingent on local/national health policy.

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What if my school/location is cancelled, can I select/be placed in a different school/location?

If USC decides to suspend only specific locations, and allow others to be held, students assigned to a suspended school/location can be re-assigned to a location which is not suspended. Re-assignment will depend on availability to place additional students at that school/location (availability can be impacted by partner quotas on how many students they will accept, as well as deadlines to nominate students). 

We are hopeful that any suspensions will occur early enough to allow us to move students to different locations, and students still have time to apply for a study visa, make housing arrangements, etc. Students assigned to suspended schools/locations can also choose to defer to Fall 2022. 

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If USC cancels the program, but I still wish to go abroad, may I?

If USC cancels all study abroad, or programming in a specific country/region, you will not be able to study abroad as a USC student. You may still choose to study abroad, but would need to organize everything on your own (USC would not endorse your application), and would not receive any USC scholarships/financial aid, and would need to take a Leave of Absence for the semester. In addition, you would NOT be able to obtain any major or minor credit for the classes you completed, and would need to file an Exception to Residency to request elective credit for the classes taken abroad (there is no guarantee an exception request will be approved). Please speak to your academic advisor if you have any questions about taking a leave of absence, the exception process, and the impact on your degree completion.

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If I took a leave of absence in Fall 2021, can I study abroad in Spring 2022?

Typically students on a leave of absence may not apply to study abroad in the following semester.  In light of the context of the pandemic, we may allow students on a leave of absence to apply to study abroad.  Decisions will be made on a case-by-case basis.  Please email our office to discuss further. 

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Which locations are most likely to run in Spring 2022?

That is hard to say at this point, considering how rapidly things change in relation to the pandemic (for example, several countries in Europe are currently on lockdown after months of being open this past summer. Japan, which looked to be one of the most successful nations in dealing with the pandemic is now battling a major surge).  As we learn that host institutions will not be offering spring programs, we will list those programs on our website, and notify students. 

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Is there a chance that my program could be cancelled at the last minute due to COVID-19?

Although USC will endeavor to notify applicants about the status of fall programs as early as possible to help them plan ahead, there is always the chance that the COVID-19 situation in any given country worsens unexpectedly.  As we have all seen, this pandemic can be unpredictable. Border closures, lockdowns and university closures can happen unexpectedly, possibly suspending study abroad programs or delaying their start.

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How might the COVID-19 pandemic affect my study abroad experience, if programs do run?

Even if USC determines that study abroad programming may resume, students must be prepared for some degree of unpredictability, given the nature of the COVID-19 pandemic.   This includes last-minute cancellations, or even cancellations after arrival in country.

Studying abroad in Spring 2022 will be very different from the experience of study abroad in the past. Please consider the following:

 

General:

  • Students should understand that host institutions, cities or countries may institute travel restrictions at any time and will likely require mask-wearing, social distancing and other precautions. 
  • Students may be required to quarantine, submit results of Covid tests and/or provide proof of vaccination against Covid. 
  • In many locations, rules are strictly enforced, and failure to comply may result in fines, arrest, or visa cancellation.

 

Academics:

  • Host universities will have rules and guidelines that students must follow.
  • The pandemic may require a shift to distance learning at any time.

 

Passports/Visas:

  • There may be processing delays for passports and student visas. Plan ahead.
  • Students may have to travel to a consulate in another city or state to apply for a student visa and should be prepared for the related travel expenses. 
  • Travel restrictions or quarantine requirements may complicate your ability to obtain a visa at a consulate in another city or state. 

 

Housing:

  • You may have to follow special protocols to help keep everyone in your housing safe.
  • There may be restrictions involving visitors.
  • Students may be required to self-quarantine upon arrival or at points during the program. 

 

Social Life & Travel:

  • Large gatherings may be prohibited, and some public places such as museums may remain closed.
  • Lockdowns, curfews, and stay-at-home orders may restrict your ability to travel. 
  • Countries may close borders with little notice. 
  • There may be travel restrictions with a country or even within a city.
  • Students should plan on staying more local than in a usual semester, getting to know their host city and host country well and making local friends. Extensive travel, especially to other countries, is not recommended as sudden travel restrictions or quarantine requirements may greatly delay students’ return to their host city. Returning from another country involves the chance of having to be quarantined in your host city.
  • Students should understand extensive travel also increases the chance of spreading or contracting the virus.

 

Health Care:

  • National and local health authorities or host institutions may require in-country Covid testing.  Students may need to be vaccinated in the host country.
  • The pandemic may overwhelm local health care facilities and thus limit the ability to access care.

 

Stay Informed:

  • Students bear the responsibility for gathering information about and following all local safety requirements and guidelines. 
  • Be sure to monitor local media consistently to stay informed.
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Will I need to be vaccinated in order to study abroad?

All students, including those going on study abroad, must be compliant with USC’s Covid-19 Vaccination Program (Please note that even students approved for exemptions at USC may be required to be vaccinated by overseas entities).

There is also a wide range of rules set by overseas entities to consider.

  • Rules for transiting or entering a country are set by each country.
  • Rules about entering a country/region/province/state/city within a country (e.g. England or Scotland within the UK, Basque Autonomous Region in Spain, city of Milan, etc.) are set be by the governments of those entities.
  • Host institutions and program providers also set their own rules on access to campus and facilities.
  • Airlines, rail lines, and ferry lines set their own rules as well.
  • Entities may have different rules of access depending on one’s vaccination status, the type of vaccine, the location where the vaccine was administered, one’s country of citizenship and/or the location from which the person is entering the jurisdiction.

As of July 2021, there are locations where only vaccinated persons can reduce or waive time in quarantine, enter certain establishments such as stores and restaurants, access certain services, and so on. As mentioned before, policies are subject to change, so policies in place now cannot be assumed to be the same in spring 2022.

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Will I need to quarantine upon arrival in the host country?

Rules vary by country and may change over time. More information can be found in the links at the end of this FAQ page. Note that if students must quarantine upon entering a country, it is possible they will have to quarantine again if they leave the country and re-enter.

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Will I need to undergo Covid testing before and during study abroad?

Yes, at least once and possibly multiple times.

  • Entry: Most countries allowing entry of visitors require a negative Covid test within a specified time frame prior to arrival in the country.
  • While abroad: Testing will likely be mandatory at various stages of any required quarantine. Testing may be required by a number of government, educational, and commercial entities as well as for travel to different regions within a country or to a different country.
  • Re-entry to US: Currently, all air passengers entering the United States (including U.S. citizens and Legal Permanent Residents) are required to present a negative COVID-19 test, taken within three calendar days of departure or proof of recovery from the virus within the last 90 days.
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When should I book my flights? Should I buy refundable tickets or get flight cancellation insurance?

We will cover travel planning in the mandatory General Orientation in Sept 17th  from 2-5pm.  Students should not book any flights before being formally admitted by the host institution (this may be as late as November).

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What should I consider in terms of USC housing or off-campus housing in case my program is suspended?

Students should ensure they have a backup plan in place in case they cannot study abroad.  Students should be aware of the deadlines for applying for university housing and favorable time frames for securing off-campus housing.  Students should carefully read all housing contracts and lease agreements. 

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Are there any resources that you recommend for updates and further information?
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We are happy to answer any other questions you have about COVID-19 and your study abroad program.