As we continue to add to the number of things that were cancelled this year due to the coronavirus, we unfortunately have to put ‘studying abroad’ under that list. Students who were planning on traveling in the spring semester can no longer follow through with their plans, as Penn State has officially called off all of their spring 2021 study abroad programs.
Brian Brubaker, director of Education Abroad in the Global Programs, spoke on behalf of the university and this difficult decision.
“With sufficient concern surrounding the global pandemic and on-going disruption around the world, this decision was not made quickly or lightly,” said Brubaker. “Our decision is rooted in the profound current uncertainties about travel out of the United States, mobility in host locations, and the ability to even return to one’s home country. We, in good conscience, cannot provide programs with so many unknown issues.”
The cancellation of the abroad programs was not one that the university made on its own. Many countries are still issuing travel advisories due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. There are also limited immigration and consular services support, as well as financial and academic planning issues.
Megan Markey, a junior majoring in advertising, was planning to study in Florence this upcoming spring.
“I’m not surprised that my program was cancelled,” said Markey. “Even if we were allowed to go, I think it would have been a very limited experience with lots of testing, rules, and quarantine.”
Rachel Berger, a junior majoring in supply chain, agrees with Markey that she, too, was not surprised about the cancellation of study abroad.
“I was supposed to study in Madrid for my minor,” explained Berger. “I knew that even if I were to go, my experience would not be the same considering the circumstances, however I cancelled my trip before Penn State said anything because my family and I didn’t think it would be safe regardless.”
When asked if she would be interested in postponing her trip, Berger said that wasn’t something she was interested in.
“I want to be here for my last football semester, and traveling in the spring right before graduation is not something that people really do,” continued Berger. “It creates a challenge.”
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to challenge every aspect of our previous lives, but we hope study abroad can be reinstated safely for the students sometime soon.