On Feb. 25, 2020, all 142 students enrolled in the Florence, Italy Study Abroad program were told to return home. Global Fairfield, the study abroad office on campus, cancelled all Fall 2020 abroad experiences and told students that they were going to return for Spring 2021

By Oct. 26, 2020, Global Fairfield finalized their decision that all Spring 2021 abroad trips would also be cancelled and questions arose regarding when the program would possibly be back. But, as reported in The Mirror last week, Study Abroad is back and students are once again traveling, learning and experiencing what life is like outside the United States. 

But the question of whether or not the risk and the tense nature of the pandemic has stopped student interest in studying abroad still lingers.

Sophomore Jada Ormsbee states, “I have always wanted to study abroad and Covid hasn’t changed that because Fairfield is taking many precautions to keep their students safe.”

As reported by The Mirror last week, all students studying abroad must be fully vaccinated. 

Junior Sally Caron, who’s currently studying abroad in Florence adds that students seem to follow all of the COVID-19 guidelines and Global Fairfield gave them a thorough enough orientation that indirectly emphasized being respectful of the COVID protocols. 

“A lot of people were really hesitant about hosting study abroad students and a lot of people from the city were like not completely into the idea of having a bunch of American college kids here,” Caron says, adding, “So they let us know that all, and that warning was enough that within a week or even a few days, that if people were having their temperature checked or had to sanitize their hands before going into a store, everyone was pretty respectful of it because you just had to say.”

She continues that Global Fairfield wasn’t “transparent”, but, “I would say they gave a pretty fair warning and did pretty much the best that they could.”

Caron adds, “Obviously they can’t control what we do when we leave orientation, but I would say they did a pretty good job of convincing us to all follow these protocols.” 

Sophomore Luiza Sperling thinks more precautions must be made before she studies abroad. “I’ve always wanted to study abroad, I still believe that I will. However I think that there are more precautions we must take before traveling and while we are abroad as well.”

Caron continues that the only thing she was thinking through was how much of her college experience on-campus was already gone.

“COVID altered my decision in the sense that I felt like I had already missed out on a lot of my college experience and that’s would’ve been why I wouldn’t have gone. Because I wanted to be on campus,” Caron said. 

Sophomore Catherine Zarrella states that she wants to do a Summer program instead because of COVID.

“I have thought about study[ing] abroad a lot, especially because of how Covid impacted my first year,” Zarrella said. “As much as I would like to study abroad I don’t want to miss out with more time on campus so I am thinking of a summer program.”

“Once I had been accepted to the program and once I decided it was going to be something I was going to do… I didn’t really think about how it was going to be different with COVID because I kind of just felt pretty lucky that we were able to even go in the first place.” Caron states, “I have not felt like COVID has made much of a difference here, like everyone still goes out to eat, everybody can still go shopping and a lot of restaurants are at full capacity.”

“We’ve been at this for almost two years now,” Caron continues, “Almost every restaurant has outdoor seating accommodations… and I’ve never been to Italy before, so I could never picture it a different way.” 

As reported by The Mirror, the Office of Residence Life seems to be hoping study abroad numbers return to normal. Charles Sousa, the senior associate director of housing operations in ResLife state added that it would be a huge help on their housing model and give them back some flexibility for movement.

“I wanted to study abroad because in my head I was like, I’m graduating college and I’m going to get a job and I’m never going to be able to leave America ever again,” Caron states, “It sounds so dramatic, but that was really my mindset! Going abroad to me was like, ‘When else am I going to be 20 years old, being able to live in Italy for three months?’”

With COVID still impacting everyday life, it will remain to be seen if the abroad experience is enough to regain student interest.

 

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