Several days before she was set to board a plane for the U.K. to embark on a once-in-a-lifetime study abroad opportunity through Oxbridge Academic Programs, Alessandra Zurini learned her program had been cancelled. Pandemic travel restrictions were to blame for the sudden cancellation at the end of July.
“I was heartbroken,” Zurini said. “It was my last year to do it and I found out only a few days before my departure.”
Zurini, an incoming senior in high school, had planned to use the pre-college, immersive academic experience to amplify her education, build relationships abroad and beef up college applications.
Now Zurini has to create a similar experience closer to home.
“In Chicago I can connect with people from all over the world,” she said. “I’m looking for an internship, trying to network and salvage some of the opportunity I could have had at Oxford.”
Zurini said it’s been hard to find internships because many companies haven’t returned to an in-person office.
“I have definitely learned resilience through this experience and that the only constant is change,” she said.Zurini is honing her skills at home with ambitions of landing an internship doing social media work in Chicago.
“I have strong research capabilities, solid communication and interpersonal skills and experience with brand integration, social media activation and a rigorous work ethic,” she said.
There could be some hope on the horizon for global exploration, since some local universities are tentatively planning to go ahead with study abroad programs this upcoming academic year.
Loyola University Chicago, Northwestern University, University of Chicago and DePaul University have intentions to resume study abroad programs, if conditions allow. But fluctuating travel advisories have meant many popular study abroad program locations keep popping up on the U.S. State Department’s “Do Not Travel” list.
“While there is currently a great deal of uncertainty in the world, DePaul Study Abroad continues to plan upcoming in-person programs,” said Kristin Mathews, DePaul University’s assistant director of news and integrated content. “We have about 60 students planning to depart for programs this fall.”