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  • OU CIS

Study Abroad's Summer 2021 Return

The COVID-19 pandemic has posed many challenges to international education at the University of Oklahoma, and one of the biggest has been its disruption of study abroad. As numbers of COVID cases worldwide began in climb in March 2020, the College of International Studies made the extremely difficult decision to bring students home from study abroad for the remainder of the spring semester. As the pandemic stretched on, more tough decisions came: Education Abroad programs for summer and fall 2020 were suspended, and only a few students were able to go abroad in spring 2021.

But this summer brought good news: study abroad was approved to a longer list of locations around the world, and OU’s signature study abroad programs at our international study centers, OU in Arezzo, Italy and OU in Puebla, Mexico, were up and running once again. With a vaccine mandate, masks indoors and other precautions, students could once again take part in one of higher education’s most transformative learning experiences, immersing in other cultures and languages, exploring historical sights, art museums and natural wonders, building friendships and becoming more globally engaged citizens.

While the number of students who went abroad in summer 2021 was understandably below that of previous, non-pandemic years, thanks to the efforts of our Education Abroad office and study center staff, 154 students were able to participate in summer 2021. The largest numbers of students attended our study centers OU in Arezzo (79) and OU in Puebla (20), and 26 students were able to study in England. Other popular destinations included Spain (11 students), Israel (7 students) and South Korea (4 students). Germany, Greece and Taiwan all hosted one OU student apiece this summer, and four students ended up completing virtual study abroad programs, a new approach particularly common to language learning programs during the pandemic.

Read more below and see photos from our programs at OU in Arezzo and OU in Puebla! And if you wish to study abroad in spring or summer 2022, visit for details. (You will need to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to participate in all non-virtual programs.)

Did you study abroad this summer, or are you interested in going soon? Stop by Education Abroad's September 8th event "Around the World & Back Again" on the South Oval!

Ou in Arezzo, Italy

Gaylord in Arezzo

The Gaylord College of Journalism Arezzo program ran from June 8-July 9, and students were able to travel to Rome, Pisa, Cinque Terre and Florence in addition to their home base of Arezzo. Students took two courses, Gaylord 360: Storytelling Without Walls (taught by Ray Claxton) and Food Writing and Social Media (taught by Adam Croom), and had unique opportunities to gain career experience on-site in addition to exploring Italy's culture, art, history and food. One particular highlight was the group's experience working with the tourism company Discover Arezzo. They had the opportunity to create and present their own promotional campaign for the company, taking part in various activities to learn more about Arezzo tourism. This included kayaking, E-Bike rides, fresco painting, learning about the Giostra del Saracino (the annual joust and festival) and horseback riding. Gaylord in Arezzo student Emily said of the fresco painting course, “I felt like I connected with past artists from history, because we learned techniques that they used hundreds of years ago.”

Journey to Italy

The College of International Studies' signature Arezzo program, Journey to Italy, ran this summer from July 12-August 5. Students traveled to Rome, the ancient city of Pompeii, Sorrento, the island of Capri, Venice and Florence in addition to Arezzo. Journey to Italy's two courses revolved around art: Art and Culture in Italy (taught by OUA Director Kirk Duclaux) and The Art of Travel (taught by OU art history professor Robert Bailey), and students had the opportunity to study art in some of the world's most famous museums and churches, including the Uffizi and Duomo museums in Florence and the Vatican and Capitoline museums in Rome. As part of the Art of Travel course, students visited an agriturismo (functioning farm, restaurant and B&B) for pizza-making in Sorrento and met with an activist group in Venice working to address Venice's challenges as a living city, which includes fighting to prohibit large cruise ships from entering the city's canals. Journey to Italy student Sydney summed up her experience on the program: "Journey to Italy is the opportunity of a lifetime! Everyone has the mindset to try new things, have fun and are eager to learn about Italian culture. The friends I have made enrich my experience abroad and allow me to collect many moments that will stay with me forever."

OU in Puebla, Mexico

The Cuisine, Arts and Culture of Mexico

OU in Puebla hosted one of its most popular programs this summer: The Cuisine, Arts & Culture of Mexico, for which students completed an intermediate Spanish or Hispanic literature course alongside the course Mexican Cuisine and Culture. For the latter course, students enjoyed cooking lessons, visits to local markets and restaurants and meeting with young entrepreneurs in Puebla's culinary scene. A highlight was the group's excursion to the state of Tlaxcala to the north of Puebla. There students visited with a family that is working on reintroducing biodiversity to their farmland by cultivating dozens of types of corn and amaranth — both mesoamerican culinary staples. The fruit that students are eating in some of the photos are called capulines, similar to wild black cherries. In the same day the group visited a family that produces traditional tools out of volcanic rock, such as metates and molcajetes. Together, they prepared a salsa with a molcajete that was then served on tacos. Overall, it was a memorable program that allowed students to improve their Spanish while truly immersing in the local culture.

Ready to pack your bags? Head to now to get started on your journey abroad! And Follow @ouabroad on Instagram and Facebook to for future events, like the upcoming Italy and Mexico weeks!


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