The Office of Study Abroad announced that all spring study abroad programs will be canceled for the upcoming spring 2021 semester. This decision, which was finalized on Oct. 26, resulted after months of monitoring the situation and figuring out how to best ensure students’ health and safety.
The announcement served as the programs’ official cessation, but through both their own premonitions and previous contact from the University, many students knew of the programs’ fate long before the email.
In July, nursing major Caroline Costa ‘22 learned that she would not be able to spend her spring semester in Galway, Ireland. She had been skeptical about the program’s likelihood since the pandemic’s onset, and her doubts only increased in the months that followed.
“I was looking forward to meeting new people, gaining new experiences, seeing Europe for the first time and taking different types of classes,” said Costa. “I also have family from Ireland, so I was hoping to learn more about where my family is from.”
Costa specifically wanted to visit Spain, where she could immerse herself in the language and culture that she studies as her minor.
Instead, Costa will be remaining on campus in the spring. However, she will certainly not be alone during this time because six of her roommates also had their study abroad experiences cancelled and will thus be remaining on campus as well.
One such roommate, Cynthia Patsos ‘22, anticipated gaining a lot from her experience abroad.
“I was looking forward to visiting famous landmarks and attractions, trying new foods and learning about how healthcare is delivered in a different country,” Patsos said. As a nursing student herself, she was excited for Galways’s ability to show her the nursing field in a different culture.
“In mid-July, I received a final email stating that all nursing study abroad programs had been canceled due to the pandemic,” explained Patsos. “I wasn’t surprised by this decision, but I was incredibly disappointed that this opportunity had been taken away from me.”
To Patsos, who eagerly awaited the chance to explore her family’s native country, the situation was as predictable as it was demoralizing.
“Due to the sky-rocking number of COVID-19 cases, constant rumors of having the fall semester conducted remotely and my parents still being out of work, I had started to doubt that life would be able to return to normal so soon” Patsos added.
These sentiments expressed by Costa and Patsos resonated with another one of their roommates, Robyn Jutras ‘22. Also a nursing major scheduled for Galway, Jutras felt these letdowns just as much as her peers.
“I was looking forward to experiencing nursing and education in a different country and being able to travel while still learning, meeting new people and being with friends,” said Jutras.
Amongst these factors, the location’s great culture and history were also elements that she wanted the opportunity to appreciate.
The news of the cancelation did not shock Jutras either. If anything, such news appeared all but obvious by late springtime.
“Considering everything going on during quarantine, I was concerned if I would ever be able to leave my house again or return to Fairfield, let alone study in another country,” remarked Jutras.
The widespread disappointment shared by these roommates, and so many other students just like them, has certainly tallied up over the past few months. However, Jutras’ outlook on the entire situation remains optimistic.
“Even though I am not able to go abroad during my time here at Fairfield, I am now even more motivated to travel when it is safe to do so and when I have completed college,” Jutras shared.