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Saint Mary’s students react to cancellation of study abroad programs

| Friday, October 16, 2020

Saint Mary’s announced the cancellation of all study abroad programs for the spring semester due to the global effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in an Oct. 7 email, leaving some students with a change to their plans.

Saint Mary’s study abroad programs are popular among the student body, as there are 28 programs in nearly 20 different countries, and 51% of students study abroad at some point within their four undergraduate years, according to the Saint Mary’s study abroad webpage. 

The global COVID-19 pandemic cut study abroad programs short last spring and cancelled them for this fall, causing the College to make exceptions in some major departments to allow students an opportunity to study abroad at some point. 

Emily Moriartey, a sophomore nursing student, was planning to study abroad in Rome this fall.

Due to the rigorous and structured nursing curriculum, study abroad is only possible in the fall of a student’s sophomore year or during the summer, in order to keep them on track to graduate in four years. 

Moriartey said she strategically saved a few of her required Sophia courses for when she went to Rome because she couldn’t take her nursing classes abroad. 

“Clinicals start junior year so I will not have the opportunity to study abroad for the semester again and this breaks my heart,” she said.  “I was so excited to travel to as many countries as I could, including Belgium where my mom’s whole side of the family lives.”

Amidst their disappointment, students say they understand why Saint Mary’s made the tough decision. 

Taylor Bean, a sophomore double major in communication and humanisitic studies, said she tried to stay optimistic about her plans to go abroad to Rome in the spring, but wasn’t surprised when she received the email from the College. 

“I am thankful for the College’s precautions to keep all of its students healthy and safe, but like everyone else in the world right now, the pandemic is altering my plans in very unexpected ways,” Bean said.

Many students, including Bean, are still undecided about when or if they will study abroad if given the opportunity.

Aside from moving course schedules around to study abroad and again after, junior business administration and economics double major Meredith Heckert has to plan around her tennis schedule.

Heckert planned to study at St. Mary’s University in Twickenham, London this semester and had to delay that plan until spring semester, but now does not know if studying abroad is in the picture anymore.

“Because of COVID-19 and my junior status here at Saint Mary’s, it’s very uncertain if I will be going abroad before I graduate,” she said.

The College said in the email to students that they sympathize with students who might not have another opportunity to study abroad, and they are still contemplating a decision for summer programs.

Students like Heckert and Bean have the option to consider study abroad programs in the summer, but all plans are still in the decision making process.

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