Just as Dixie State University students eagerly prepared for the experience of a lifetime, a global pandemic ensued, destroying their hopes of studying abroad in foreign countries. The opportunity to eat gelato in the streets of Rome and camp at the base of the world’s highest mountain had sadly become a distant dream once again.
Despite the cancellation this year, DSU students can still grab a passport, pack their luggage and choose a destination because not all hope is lost.
Dreams of learning a new culture and exploring a new world can soon become reality again since the DSU Study Abroad programs are planning to resume during the summer 2021 semester.
“We did decide to move forward with planning the summer 2021 programs, and we’re not planning any programs for the spring 2021 semester,” said Jenny Callahan, Study Abroad program coordinator. “Of course we will follow all of the information we get from travel advisories, Department of State, CDC, all those things.”
Callahan said as the trips get closer, each independent study abroad location will be heavily monitored and evaluated by a committee to determine whether or not the trip will be safe enough for students to attend.
“There’s certainly students who are a little more tentative about trying study abroad this year, but we’ve had a really tremendous response of student interest in going abroad,” Callahan said. “I think more students are excited to get out into the world to see something new. This experience we’ve all been through [with COVID-19] heightens that desire to get out and travel.”
Christopher Mansfield, a sophomore art major from Washington, said he signed up during the spring 2020 semester to study at Meijo University in Nagoya, Japan for a full year until the cancellation.
“I was really hoping to study in Japan so I could improve my language skills and fit in better with my Japanese culture,” Mansfield said. “Next year, I have the chance to study abroad again, and I’ll definitely be signing up.”
Mansfield was a representative of the Japan booth at the Study Abroad Fair on Sept. 16 where he educated other students of the opportunity to study at Meijo University and encouraged them to sign up.
“It can’t hurt to sign up for the program; even if coronavirus is still a thing, everyone will be refunded their money,” Mansfield said. “If you can financially do it and the pandemic calms down, then I see no reason why students shouldn’t want to experience going to school in a different country.”
Christina Peries, a senior history major from Los Angeles, planned to study abroad in Rome. She said she agreed with Mansfield that students should sign up for a program despite all the uncertainties surrounding the future because this is an important way for students to learn to appreciate other cultures.
“I was so excited to see the art and ancient architecture,” Peries said. “I’m such a nerd for that kind of stuff, and it was the best plan to finish my senior year of college.”
Peries said she originally lost all hope to travel after the cancellation took place, especially because Italy was one of the countries with the most COVID-19 cases.
“I was planning on just taking the ‘L’ and graduating without traveling abroad because I’m a senior and I thought because of the pandemic, I’d never have the chance to do something like this again while I could,” Peries said. “With plans moving forward again, I’m definitely going to sign up and just get my degree after the summer semester next year.”
Mansfield, Peries and Callahan said students who are debating whether or not they want to study abroad should just sign up for the program anyway. They can always change their minds later if they want, but with plans moving ahead, it’s okay to remain hopeful.
“I’m hopeful; I want to be hopeful about the program continuing because that’s what I do and that’s what I love to help students with,” Callahan said. “I’m sure there will be some circumstances in some locations that won’t allow us to go there though, so it’s really one of those difficult situations where we have to be patient and see what happens next.”