Frequently Asked Questions Fall 2021 Abroad FAQs

Keeping health and safety forefront, Penn Abroad is committed to providing as much opportunity for students to participate in a semester abroad as possible in fall 2021. This opportunity will be limited in scope, including the number of students that can participate as we navigate the COVID-19 public health situation that continues to fluctuate around the globe.

In consultation with Penn’s Committee on Travel Risk Assessment (CTRA) and with the support of Penn Leadership, Penn Abroad is providing the opportunity to apply to select program locations during fall 2021. Review the Frequently Asked Questions below to learn more about fall 2021 Semester Abroad guidelines, the application process, and other important health and safety criteria for resuming undergraduate student travel.

Penn Abroad continues to assess the public health situation worldwide and will update the Frequently Asked Questions as needed throughout the semester. All further questions not addressed below should be directed to goabroad@upenn.edu.

Frequently Asked Questions

The following FAQs are applicable to all current applicants to Penn Abroad semester programs in Fall/Academic Year 2021. Penn Abroad is not accepting any new applications for study abroad in Fall/Academic Year 2021 at this time. The next application cycle will open on June 15, 2021 for Spring 2022 abroad.

Preparation for Departure 

While Abroad

Health & Safety Resources

Preparation for Departure

How do I find out the travel entry requirements to my host country?
Within PASSPORT, each student has access to entry regulations that are specific to their program destination. These are outlined in the “SA: Entry and Arrival Requirements” document and are current as of April 2021. Students should read the document closely before committing to the program and before making travel arrangements. It is the student’s responsibility to stay up-to-date about any changes to the entry requirements and adjust travel arrangements to comply accordingly.

Will I have to quarantine when I arrive at my host destination?
Quarantine requirements vary at each abroad location. As of April 2021, a majority of our destinations for Fall 2021 require some amount of quarantine upon arrival. For a small number of countries with no required quarantine, the host institution requires a minimal isolation period, or until students can produce a negative COVID-19 test. Quarantine requirements per program are outlined in the “SA: Entry and Arrival Requirements” document in PASSPORT, which is accurate as of April 2021.

Will I have to take a COVID-19 test before my departure or after my arrival abroad?
COVID-19 testing requirements vary at each abroad location. As of April 2021, a majority of our destinations for Fall 2021 require some amount of COVID-19 testing prior to departure or after arrival, even for fully vaccinated travelers.  COVID-19 testing requirements per program are outlined in the “SA: Entry and Arrival Requirements” document in PASSPORT, which is accurate as of April 2021.

How and when do I book my flight?
As a requirement of Penn’s Committee on Travel Risk Assessment (CTRA), students will book their roundtrip flight through World Travel, Penn’s travel provider. Flight booking guidelines will be shared with students via PASSPORT in early June. Under no circumstances may students book flights outside of the World Travel system.

Students will fill out a secure World Travel webform indicating the itinerary details for their roundtrip flight. After submission, a World Travel agent will create an itinerary and email the flight itinerary to the student. Upon the student’s confirmation of the proposed itinerary, a World Travel agent will call the student to collect credit card details over the phone.

In all cases, students are responsible for the cost of their flight. Students will also have the option to use airline points. Highly-aided students have the option to add their flight charge to their Penn bill. All travel must be booked no later than July 10, 2021.

What type of support will be available to me at my host destination abroad, or while completing quarantine?
All students traveling on Penn-affiliated programs will have access to Penn resources while abroad. Penn Abroad is available to assist students via email, phone, and Zoom 5-days per week from 9 AM to 5 PM ET. Penn Police are available for 24/7 support in case of emergency outside of normal U.S. working hours. Students who contact Penn Police (+1 215-573-3333) should identify themselves as a “Penn Abroad Student” to be redirected to a Penn Abroad support person after hours. All students also have 24/7 health and security support via International SOS.

All students will also have additional on-site support as follows:

  • United Kingdom – In addition to support provided by UK host universities, students are supported by a local on-site Resident Director provided via our study abroad provider partner, IFSA. The Resident Director in the UK will conduct daily check-ins during the quarantine period, plan safe social and cultural extracurricular programming throughout the semester, and serve as a 24/7 local point of contact in case of emergency.
  • Hong Kong, South Korea, and Bocconi University – In addition to support and programming provided by host universities, students will have access to virtual support via our study abroad provider partner IFSA. Virtual support will include daily check-ins during the arrival and quarantine period, and ongoing 24/7 virtual support as needed in case of an emergency abroad.
  • All Other European Destinations – In addition to support provided by the host universities, students are supported by a local Resident Director associated with their program. The Resident Director will conduct check-ins during the quarantine period, plan safe social and cultural extracurricular programming throughout the semester, and serve as a 24/7 local point of contact in case of emergency.

My PASSPORT portal says I am “Conditionally Accepted.” What does that mean?
Students who are in Conditional Acceptance status must review and sign a number of required forms before being formally accepted to their abroad program. The purpose of the Conditional Acceptance phase is to allow students and their families time to carefully consider all factors and potential risks associated with studying abroad during Fall / Academic Year 2021. Required forms include the Penn Semester Abroad Student Compact, CTRA Guidelines Per Location, CTRA Heightened Risk Region Liability Form, Acknowledgement of Financial Risks during COVID-19, and Acknowledgement of Entry Requirements per program (Available in PASSPORT). All forms and signatures are due no later than June 1, 2021 at 11:59 pm EDT.

Do I need to sign any special documents regarding study abroad during COVID-19?
Yes. All students studying abroad in Fall / Academic Year 2021 are required to review and sign the following:

  • Penn Semester Abroad Student Compact – Following the model of the Penn Campus Compact, students are expected to uphold all the values and behaviors described within for the duration of their time abroad.
  • CTRA Guidelines Per Location – Outlines a written set of parameters set by CTRA, which students are required to follow while abroad. A violation of any parameter set forth by CTRA is a violation of Penn’s Student Code of Conduct.
  • CTRA Heightened Risk Region Liability Form – Students are expected to review this document carefully before signing, being sure they understand all contents of the document and all risks associated with study abroad during COVID-19.
  • Acknowledgment of Financial Risks document – Outlines financial risks students must assume during Fall / Academic Year 2021 abroad
  • Acknowledgment of Entry Requirements per program (Available in PASSPORT) – Explains entry and quarantine requirements per program.  

Is a COVID-19 vaccine required to study abroad?
For any Penn-affiliated travel occurring after May 18, 2021, including all participants in Fall / Academic Year 2021 study abroad, COVID-19 vaccinations are required*. Travelers must be fully vaccinated prior to departure. The timeframe to be considered fully vaccinated is two weeks after a single-dose vaccine (such as Johnson & Johnson/Janssen) or two weeks after the second dose of a two-dose vaccine (such as Pfizer or Moderna). Students should upload documentation of their COVID-19 immunizations here: Uploading Immunization Records – Student Health Service (upenn.edu)

*Vaccination is required unless an exception has been granted for medical or religious reasons. If you have a question related to this guidance, please email travelsafety@pobox.upenn.edu. More information is available on the CTRA Travel Guidelines website

My abroad location received CTRA approval in May 2021. Does this mean I am guaranteed to go abroad?
CTRA approval may be rescinded at any time. Programs may also be canceled independently of the CTRA process or move to a fully virtual format. Any of these scenarios would result in your fall 2021 abroad term not moving forward.

All Fall / Academic Year 2021 students are strongly encouraged to consider the consequences if their fall 2021 abroad term is canceled for any reason. Cancellations carry financial risks as outlined in the “Acknowledgement of Financial Risks” document as well as academic risks, including the potential impact on academic progress and on-time degree completion.

I took several classes pass/fail since spring 2020. How will this impact my academic eligibility for study abroad?
As part of their academic review of study abroad applications, the undergraduate divisions of SAS, SEAS, and Wharton will not uncover or factor in letter grades earned in any courses that were taken on a pass/fail (P/F) basis during spring 2020, fall 2020, and spring 2021 terms AND for which students earned credit. In keeping with professional standards of patient care, the School of Nursing will include the letter grades earned in any clinical courses and courses that serve as pre-requisites for clinical training as part of its academic review of study abroad applications.

Some abroad institutions may require that applicants have taken specific pre-requisite courses for a letter grade. A student may receive academic approval from Penn but be denied admission by the abroad institution if pre-requisite courses were taken on a P/F basis.

Studying abroad requires students to adapt quickly to a new set of social, cultural, and academic conditions and expectations all at once, sometimes without the benefit of familiar support structures. Though an imperfect guide, earned course grades – particularly those earned in foundational and core courses – are key indicators of a student’s capacity to meet the added challenge of studying in a new academic environment. Without the benefit of such grades for courses taken P/F, students contemplating study abroad are urged to discuss their academic preparation for the abroad experience with the academic advising office in their school. An honest assessment of their readiness to handle their proposed abroad courses as part of the application process will only benefit students in the long term.

While Abroad

I am interested in participating in academic, co-curricular, personal, or leisure travel while abroad. Is this allowed, and what are the parameters?
Students are expected to spend the majority of their time in their host city and country, with limited exceptions. Guidance on approved travel during your semester abroad is available within the CTRA Guidelines Per Location document. All approved travel while abroad must be registered in MyTrips.

What are the communication expectations while studying abroad? Am I required to touch base with Penn Abroad regularly?
Given the nature of Fall / Academic Year 2021 study abroad, it is expected that all students abroad remain in consistent communication with Penn Abroad. It is required that students respond to all Penn Abroad communication in a timely manner, which means a 24-hour response time. It is critical that your communication with Penn Abroad is prompt and consistent.

What happens if I test positive for COVID-19 while abroad?
In the event you test positive for COVID-19 while abroad, immediately connect with the appropriate on-site support staff at your abroad location and/or at your host institution and seek proper medical care. All Penn students abroad are covered by International SOS for travel medical assistance, including care for COVID-19. Please stay in communication with Penn Abroad, and maintain your health insurance policy information on you at all times (Penn International SOS membership card and local health insurance policy information [if applicable]).  

If I test positive for COVID-19 or fall ill during my time abroad, can I depart my host country?
In the event you test positive for COVID-19 or fall ill during your time abroad, you may not be able to return swiftly to your home country and/or your family member may not be able to swiftly join you in your host country. Options for International SOS support to return to your home country for continued medical care, if not medically required, will be limited or not possible. Options for a family member to join you in-country may be limited or not possible pending travel restrictions, required quarantine, etc.

All Penn students studying abroad are covered by International SOS for travel medical assistance, including care for COVID-19. Penn Abroad, International SOS, and your on-site support staff and/or host institution will remain in communication throughout any prolonged illness, to support you as best as possible.

Health and Safety Resources

What are Penn’s most up-to-date travel guidelines?
Please see Penn’s International Travel Guidance.

What is Penn’s International SOS Insurance Information?
All students studying abroad in Fall / Academic Year 2021 are members of International SOS, which includes travel medical insurance. Details and insurance contact information is available on the Insurance section of Penn’s International Travel Guidance website.  

What are the most up-to-date CDC travel recommendations?
Please use the CDC Travel Recommendations page.

What are the most up-to-date Department of State travel recommendations?
Please use the Department of State International Travel page.