HAMDEN, Conn. (WTNH) — After nearly two years, study abroad programs through universities and colleges in Connecticut are slowly returning, giving students the chance to live and learn in different countries.

Back in March 2020, it is hard to forget when students studying abroad had to suddenly return home. Now, they are finally traveling overseas again, including those who go to school at Quinnipiac University in Hamden.

Going into college, Lydia Jones knew she wanted to study abroad, but when COVID-19 hit, she questioned whether that would still be possible.

When Quinnipiac opened applications for the 2021 fall semester, Jones was hopeful, though even then, things were still up in the air.

“I was definitely worried and I didn’t even tell a lot of my friends or people from Quinnipiac,” Jones said.

In the middle of the summer, she got the confirmation.

“It was a last minute thing like August. I was like, ‘OK, I can breathe, I can actually go,'” Jones said.

Jones was off to Ireland for four months, ready to to immerse herself in a foreign country, despite some COVID-19 restrictions.

“It definitely was difficult, but thankfully, I was able to travel to different countries,” Jones said.

Quinnipiac’s Director of Global Learning Erin Sabato said after a nearly two-year hiatus, they offered a semester program in Ireland last fall.

“The students were prepared. The students knew what they had to do. The students were very much aware of what the local protocols were on the ground, and we knew we could safely send them,” Sabato said.

This spring they’ll add Spain to the roster, and come fall they’ll have students studying in 10 different locations. Before the pandemic, they typically had a few dozen options.

“We haven’t opened up you know entirely, we are still limiting locations, but the number of locations are certainly, they have increased,” Sabato said.

It is a process that Sabato has been a part of from the very beginning in March 2020 on a program in Guatemala. This spring break, she will head back, for her first trip with students since the shutdown.

“It’s pretty incredible to come full circle,” Sabato said. “There were moments where I thought, you know, when will we be able to do this again?”

As for Jones, she returned home with a new sense of independence and appreciation for other cultures, and is excited for more students to have an opportunity that she might have lost.

“I wouldn’t trade my experience for the world,” Jones said. “I’m glad I was able to go.”

Officials at the University of New Haven told News 8 their first students to study abroad since March 2020 arrived in Italy last week.

A spokesperson for Southern Connecticut State University also told News 8 they have a small group of students abroad this semester.