London Study Abroad set to return in 2022

The 2020 Study Abroad group holds a DMACC banner in front of Tower Bridge.

With more and more people getting vaccinated in the United States and United Kingdom, the DMACC Study Abroad program is back on track and will travel to London in February 2022. 

Bethany Sweeney, English and history professor at the DMACC Carroll campus and coordinator for the Study Abroad program, talked about how the first post-pandemic study abroad trip will look a lot like pre-pandemic trips and how prospective students can best take advantage of their experience. 

“We’re seeing our COVID vaccination rates improve over the last few months,” Sweeney said. “So by the time we go on the trip in February 2022, it looks like students should be able to engage in most if not all of the traditional aspects of the trip, you know, from normal classroom study to museums, day trips around the United Kingdom, theater, performances, all of that fun stuff.”

As of April 15, according to the UK government, 32.5 million citizens have received at least one dose, about half the population, and just over 38 percent of Americans have received one dose, almost 126 million people. 

There have been more study abroad signups for February of 2022 than there were before the pandemic, so with it appearing that the study abroad experience is now back on track, Sweeney broke down the dynamics of the trip: 

“The study abroad trip includes a lot of extracurricular activities,” said Sweeney. “So every trip includes two theater performances usually like a traditional play, and then a musical.  . . . There’s also kind of, you get a bunch of tours of the area. So you get a bus tour of London, you get a run to London on which is the famous Ferris wheel that overlooks the city, you get two day trips outside of London included. So last year, those trips were to Stonehenge and to Oxford, . . . different museums, a trip to Buckingham Palace, a trip to British Museum, the British Library.”

Sweeney also described the learning environment as well: 

“I went abroad as a teacher, which was 20, I think we spent maybe max of half of our class periods actually in the classroom,” Sweeney said. “And then the other half was going to museums or cafes, or doing walking tours, or that kind of thing. So that opportunity to really put learning into action and get those kinds of firsthand experiences of the city really attracts people. The other thing is that we don’t have Friday class. And so we always have students over a three day weekend, many students had 40 weekends on a trip and so the ability to travel, right, we had students go to Amsterdam, go to Paris, go to Spain, they were planning trips to Iceland and Greece.”

Going overseas and staying in a city like London definitely is not cheap. Instead of being discouraged, Sweeney encourages students to do their research. There are so many cost cutting deals that students are unaware of. 

“Especially travel can be so cheap in Europe, like you can get a round trip ticket from London to Dublin (Ireland) for like 30 bucks,” Sweeney said. “People will be like ‘oh well I can’t usually afford flights’ but paying 30 bucks is really different than paying 300 bucks.”

Sweeney also added that the study abroad trip through DMACC is cheaper than trips through other large Iowa universities. 

According to DMACC, students can expect to spend $11,500. According to Iowa State, a semester at University of Exeter, a college three hours outside of London, students could expect just over $24,000 in expenses. 

Talissa Vegas, a former DMACC student who studied abroad last year, said it was her first time traveling outside the U.S. “I’ve never been outside of the country before,” Vegas said. “So it was interesting getting to experience new places like that. And it was a culture that I’ve always wanted to experience. . . . I thought it was exciting to be able to, you know, venture out of my comfort zone a little bit.”

She recommends that students be cautious when arriving as a new environment can take some time to adjust to. 

“Being in a new country is kind of difficult to get around and learn the transportation,” Vegas said. “So there were a few times I got on the bus, or the tube and I got taken completely in a different route than I wanted to be.”

She also cautioned about pickpockets: “I would tell them to just be careful with your belongings when you are on the tube and on the bus and just like walking around, because it’s known for pickpocketing in Europe, and I do know a couple people that said that they have been pickpocketed, but I haven’t personally.”

With almost a quarter of America being fully vaccinated and the United Kingdom leading the charge in the amount of people vaccinated in Europe, students can prepare for a full or almost full return to normal when DMACC takes their next trip to London in February of 2022.

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