Traveling Despite Adversity

Tracy Ridley stands in front of a sign that reads "You and Me in the Seoul Sky"When the COVID-19 pandemic began to affect travel in March 2020, nearly 95% of the 382 UNC undergraduates studying abroad returned home, finishing their term online. While many other universities put their study abroad programs on hold, staff at UNC’s Study Abroad Office developed a complex risk assessment tool using a variety of metrics to gradually resume programs with safety precautions in place.

Tracy Ridley, was one of the lucky few who got to travel abroad in fall 2020, to South Korea: the only country available to UNC students that semester. As a Phillips Ambassador, Ridley studied at Korea’s Yonsei University in Seoul. Ridley stretched himself to try new things, including starting Korean language classes, hiking and visiting museums. “Studying abroad taught me to keep an open mind,” he said.

Because of COVID, South Korea did not allow travel out of the country, and Ridley had to quarantine for two weeks upon arrival. Despite the pandemic, he described his stay “as about as normal as you can get nowadays,” filled with new friends, adventures throughout the country and immersion in a new culture.

“Studying abroad gave me more hope for the future,” he said. “Being away [from home] helped me find those things that I really like to do and motivated me for what’s to come.”

Read more about students studying abroad during COVID-19…

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