The shutdown of study abroad for the semester

President Trump placed a travel ban to curb the COVID-19 on March 11. First reported in China, the virus quickly spread to Italy, California and now both Fulton and Gwinnett counties. A total of twenty cases have been reported around the Atlanta area, and the first Atlanta citizen to die from the virus was a 67-year-old man with pre-existing conditions. 

With the closure of schools, implementation of travel bans and increased frenzy, Georgia State’s Study Abroad Programs is among the departments that are adapting to the effects of the COVID-19. With over a hundred programs for a student to choose from, destinations now have been limited due to COVID-19.

According to Laura Boudon, director and coordinator of the Study Abroad Programs at Georgia State, students from the university are not able to study abroad in China, Italy, Japan and South Korea as a result of COVID-19. Around 30% of the program’s options have been canceled. The cancellations inconvenience the students that paid and planned to be immersed in another culture prior to the epidemic. 

Some students, however, are not concerned with the risk that comes with traveling and attending large events during this epidemic. 

Student German Hernandez plans to participate in the Performing Visual Arts program in Cuba from May 16-31. He also purchased tickets to the Ultra Music Festival before it got canceled. 

“I don’t care about the coronavirus. I’m not scared of that s—”, Hernandez said. 

He is one of the few students that is not bothered by the virus and remains eager to study abroad.

However, according to Dean of Students Michael Sanseviro, the last he has heard was that “May-mester [study abroad] was going to be canceled. Summer is still being discussed. The University System of Georgia for the program that they run has been canceled.”

Along with the inability to travel to certain countries, there are precautions students must take when arriving back to the states.

“Pursuant to a request from the Georgia Department of Health, students returning from South Korea were asked to self-monitor away from campus for 14 days,” Boudon said. 

Some students had to wait a number of days in order to get a flight back. Once a student finds a flight, they can not come back to school for two weeks. A bright side to all of this is that flights for Study Abroad Programs are cheaper due to travel agencies and airlines losing money.

“Airfare is actually cheaper right now for those who want to travel and study abroad,” Boudon said.

Boudon encourages students to study abroad and does not want the setbacks of COVID-19 to hinder a student from joining the program. Though there are currently four countries that students cannot study in, Boudon said the team will work to get students in the best program suited for them when classes are back up and running.