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Study abroad programs at local universities return in full swing

Posted at 5:26 AM, Apr 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-27 05:26:36-04

(WXYZ) — Study abroad programs are back in full swing this coming spring and summer.

Oakland University said they have 100 students going to 29 different countries, a huge change from 2020 when the pandemic hit and the trips stopped altogether.

One group just left for Ecuador last week, and they were all excited. The students are going to the Amazon rain forest to study ecosystems.

Many of the students who couldn't go due to the pandemic have graduated, and others were actually abroad and had to come home.

Professor Scott Tiegs has led the trip to the rain forest 15 times. He said when they get to Ecuador, they will study tropical field ecology. It's an opportunity that was taken off the table during the pandemic.

"It is frustrating. We would make a lot of plans and then they would get canceled and we'd make new plans and those would get canceled, so this is three years culminating up to this trip," Tiegs said.

Chelsea Mead had her eye on the study abroad for a while and couldn't imagine the disappointment of not going.

"Definitely can understand that that's got to be heartbreaking because this is not something you can do online," Mead said.

Malaena Caldwell also had a missed opportunity. She traveled to France in December 2019 for a 6-month study abroad trip. 90 days in, the coronavirus began spreading around the world.

"By mid-February, my mom had mentioned it again and she was like, 'I think you're going to have to come home,'" she said. "I was like so in denial. It was a plan I had planned for a year and I wanted to be there."

By the second week of March, she was back on a flight to Detroit.

She's a soon-to-be graduate, and that experience helped her decide what she'll do next. She's applied to be a teaching assistant in France.