The chance to study abroad is an opportunity that many college students look forward to experiencing in their time here at Fairfield University.
Fairfield offers study abroad programs in Aix-en-Provence, France; Brisbane, Australia; Florence, Italy; Galway, Ireland; London, England and Madrid, Spain, and states on their website that they have partnerships with other universities to have students study abroad in 40 countries around the world.
Despite an increase in students receiving a vaccine for the COVID-19 virus, as well as the continuing distribution abroad, the status of study abroad programs remains uncertain.
This same uncertain status of the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in changes and cancellations for the study abroad programs being offered for the upcoming school year.
Due to recent cancellations for Summer 2021, as well as some programs already canceled in preparation for the Fall 2021 and Spring 2022, students who are looking to participate, and those who are not, both face housing concerns related to the status of these programs.
Additionally, various students have raised concerns not only with issues related to housing but also on impacts related to course selection and overall disappointment with communication from the Office of Study Abroad.
Sophomore Maddie Coogan expressed her disappointment over the cancellation of the Spring 2022 London, England study abroad program.
Coogan stated, “I had to make sacrifices in my course load as well as housing in order to accommodate studying abroad.”
Coogan added that she felt as though this was a sacrifice willing to be made, however, disappointment continued when the program was canceled “With little explanation or logic behind the decision.”
Sophomore Meredith Montella shared a similar sentiment as she was set to attend the Galway, Ireland Spring 2022 program as well.
“The whole process made it hard to plan for classes for next year and there was not great communication early on, ” she said.
Montella continued, “I had to make sacrifices in housing and the whole time uncertainty about the situation was stressful. ”
The Mirror reached out to the Office of Residence Life multiple times for comments on how the housing lottery and future housing situations would be impacted by this situation and they did not respond in time for publication.
The summer program in Florence, Italy, set to take place in the middle of May of 2021 was also recently canceled.
Some of the impacted students were disappointed, but not surprised given the circumstances of traveling during this time.
Sophomore Drew Vaughan stated, “I am very disappointed in the cancellation of the study abroad summer program, however, I am not surprised. During times like this, we can’t be certain of anything, so this was not too unexpected for me.”
Vaughan went on to say in regards to the Office of Study Abroad, “They kept us updated on the situation in Florence when they found out any information regarding COVID-19 and the impact it would have on our program.”
Sophomore Cecily McNamara was also planning on attending the Summer 2021 trip to Florence who also felt disappointed, yet “hoped to be able to attend next year.”
The study abroad program to Brisbane, Australia for the 2021-2022 academic year was also canceled due to COVID.
Sophomore Ailish O’Beirne who planned to attend the program as a nursing major for the Spring 2022 semester expressed her disappointment for the cancellation and dissatisfaction with the Office of Study Abroad as a whole.
O’Beirne stated that initially, “The study abroad options for nursing majors was the deciding factor for me to go to Fairfield.”
The Study Abroad experience for nursing students is different from non-nursing students. For instance, according to the academic catalog a nursing student must “have completed all semesters prior to studying abroad and have a GPA of 2.00 or better in sciences.”
Additionally, nursing students have the opportunity to participate in the Australia program from February to June, or the Ireland program from January to May.
When they return, students must “complete a medication and skills review, enroll in a six-week medical-surgical summer course, and continue in the traditional nursing profession with some minor curriculum adjustments.”
Nursing students are responsible for the costs of the summer course and housing arrangements.
She continued that the application process was timely and the Office of Study Abroad was able to get a response back by February 1, however “The date for decisions was pushed back twice until late March when we found out the whole program was canceled.”
The disappointment that was felt by all of the students was also felt by O’Beirne who said “It was a very hard thing to hear because of how long I have been dreaming of going abroad and because of all of the work that went into the application.”
The Mirror reached out to The Office of Study Abroad via email and phone call for comment and did not receive a comment in time for publication.
If students have any questions or concerns about housing or study abroad they can reach out to The Office of Residence Life or The Office of Global Fairfield/ Study Abroad.