Study Abroad students have returned home as semesters and programs across the country are being canceled in the wake of COVID-19.
Students this semester were abroad with programs located in Leipzig, Germany and Oxford, England. After continued concerns of safety and health were taken into account with the rising spread of infection, students were ultimately sent home, cutting their study abroad experiences short.
Adelynn Vasquez, an Oxford program participant, said for much of the time the students were in Europe, people were discussing the coronavirus and the seriousness of the disease.
“Most of the time I was just thinking, ‘Oh, that’s in China, that’s in Italy, it’s not happening here,'” said Vasquez, sophomore political science major. “Until about three weeks ago they told us there was going to be travel restrictions and that we weren’t allowed to go to Italy and to not plan any future trips. So, at that point it started getting really real. It didn’t really come as a surprise when they said we would be being sent home.”
After arriving back in the United States, all students from the study abroad programs have been encouraged to self-quarantine for at least 14 days to make sure they haven’t contracted and spread the virus. As of now, no one from ACU has contracted COVID-19.
Tessa Lewis, an Oxford program participant, returned home with the rest of the students and said she has been enjoying the comforts of home.
“I’m just in my house,” said Lewis, sophomore communications major. “I’ve been hanging out with my parents, my mom has gone out and gotten all the fast food I missed. I don’t plan on leaving the house at all.”
Though their experiences were cut short, students understand the necessity of the decisions made to keep them safe.
“I can’t speak for everyone, but I don’t think any of us are angry with ACU,” Lewis said. “Obviously it was hard to get sent home, but we know that ACU held out for so long and we watched other groups go home weeks before us. Honestly, I’m really grateful to ACU and Stephen Shewmaker for the way they handled it.”
Shewmaker is executive director of the Center for International Education, which coordinates Study Abroad
Sydney Carr, a Leipzig program participant, said the value of this semester was not undermined by its sudden end.
“I would just say study abroad was one of the best experiences of my life and I can’t recommend it enough to everyone,” said Carr, a sophomore ministry and vocation major. “I would do it a thousand times over again even if it meant getting sent home early. The friendships I have made through this experience have become some of my best friends.
“The places I got to go to and things I got to do are things I never thought I would ever get to do in a million years. I’m so grateful for this experience and if anyone is even thinking about studying abroad they need to do it, it will change your life for the best.”