With recent restrictions impacting travel due to the spread of COVID-19, CEA has introduced some changes for Fall 2020 semester programs, including shorter programs that will not require a study visa. These implementations will provide interested students with more flexibility and time to weigh their study abroad options, but have no fear: these 90-day programs will still be action-packed and academically enriching.
Once the uncertainty around international travel has dissipated, research any current border restrictions that might impact your time abroad, particularly if your host country is within the Schengen Zone. When you have a green light to venture outside of your host country, you can use the tips below to plan travel to countries outside of the Schengen Zone so as not to interfere with your 90-day limit abroad (out of a rolling 180-day period). Be sure to check the U.S. Department of State website for the latest travel information. To determine how many days you’ve spent in the Schengen Zone and ensure you don’t exceed 90 days, you can also plug in your dates using this handy calculator.
If you’re able to explore outside your host country this fall, here are some great places that you can jet set off to that will make your time abroad even more worthwhile. So, without further ado, discover how you can put your tourist visa (which is not a physical visa document you’ll be carrying) to use with these hand-picked bucket list destinations.
The Republic of Ireland
Looking to find a home away from your host country? Ireland is the hottest cup of tea for your needs. Maybe I’m biased, having studied abroad in Galway last year myself through CEA, but the culture is steeped in warmth, friendliness and loads of craic (which loosely means “fun”), making it the perfect getaway.
To be frank, it doesn’t matter entirely which road you decide to travel in Ireland, because a grand memory awaits you in every direction. Pure beauty truly surrounds you on this land – whether that’s a mesmerizing drive through the Dingle mountains, a hop, skip and a jump to the Blarney Stone, Castle & Gardens or a walk alongside the daring Cliffs of Moher, you’re bound to fall in love and feel like you belong there yourself by the journey’s end.
There’s also Northern Ireland, a country part of the United Kingdom, where beauty is also boundless. I recommend finding a bus tour that could bring you to the Giant’s Causeway, Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge and enthralling locations featured in “Game of Thrones,” like the Dark Hedges and Dunluce Castle. You’ll think of any trip here as your lucky charm!
Speaking of the U.K., London awaits! Enjoy some fish and chips before strolling across the Tower Bridge, then taking the London Underground “tube” to witness the Changing of the Guards at Buckingham Palace. Also, entry to most museums is free here, so you can learn about London’s history and take in some great art as well. I highly recommend the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Tate Britain for art, in addition to the British Museum for human history and culture.
Before the COVID-19 began to spread, I was planning a trip to visit my home college friends in Wales and Italy, and the ones who I met while abroad last year in Ireland. Afterwards, I was going to take my next solo trip to Edinburgh, which is a medieval town with admirable architecture, often frequented by Harry Potter enthusiasts. A friend suggested to me hiking Arthur’s Seat. You should also check out Elephant Cafe, where J.K. Rowling began writing Harry Potter.
Chefchaouen is a location just buzzing with attraction. This city in northwest Morocco is known as the “Blue Pearl” or “Blue City” with the color splashed in glorious shades everywhere. Personally, from what I’ve seen, the aesthetically-pleasing and steep mountainous layout reminds me of Santorini. Maybe you don’t need Greece to live out your classic Mamma Mia fantasy after all.
Doesn’t it look blue-tiful there? Plus, it’s totally Instagram-worthy.
Andorra is a small independent principality, where the Schengen countries of France and Spain meet. Nestled in the Pyrenees mountains, Andorra is about half the size of New York City. Also, the only way to get there is via transportation from its neighboring countries of France and Spain. Making a trip to Andorra to explore its beautiful skiing and hiking trails will certainly score you bragging rights among your friends, who may have not even known of its existence before you got to travel there. Who says that you have to tour Paris or Barcelona to create adoring memories?
All in all, limiting your travel to non-Schengen countries doesn’t mean that your experience will be limited. Why not soar like a bird with one trip to the Eastern European territories of Bulgaria, the Ukraine and Romania? You don’t necessarily need to flock to Florence or inhale the Belgian air in order to have a great time. Sample other places in your 90 days that perhaps wouldn’t be the first to cross your mind otherwise!
Your Host CountryLast, but not least... if travel restrictions remain tight, don’t underestimate the adventures that await you in your host country! My own greatest memories from my time abroad are of the time I spent in Ireland exploring the local culture. It was a treasure to feel at home and forge a greater connection to my chosen study abroad destination. And, your host city isn’t necessarily fully representative of your host country. Consider cities and towns off the beaten path to make you feel like a seasoned traveler, and give you more opportunities to meet locals. Deep dives like this can make your study abroad experience unique!
Explore CEA's Fall 2020 programs and apply today!
Kelsey Fredricks is the Spring 2019 CEA MOJO Blogger in Galway, Ireland, and is currently studying at State University of New York at New Paltz.