Students Reflect on the Cancellation of Fall Study Abroad

In an email sent to the Dickinson College community on May 19, College President, Margee Ensign explained that the college “cannot confidently and safely support study abroad for the fall semester of 2020,” due to the impact of the coronavirus.

Ensign furthered that given public health concerns, Dickinson College “will not permit participation in any fall 2020 study-abroad programs.” She explained that this decision was difficult to come by, as Dickinson is a “global campus […] deeply committed to the value of education abroad.”

Students from the Class of 2021 expressed their remorse for students who intended to go abroad in the Fall. “I am so sorry for the students who won’t have the opportunity to have a study abroad experience in the fall. I hope they will all be able to have another opportunity to go abroad because it was a huge growing and learning experience for me. I will always have it to look back on and I hope once things calm down, more students will be able to experience life abroad as part of their time at Dickinson,” Sophie Martin ’21 said. Ariel Levin-Antilla ’21 echoed the sentiment. “Being able to study abroad at Dickinson is a milestone that so many students look forward to from the beginning of college. I hope that study abroad in the spring can proceed somewhat normally, and that there are measures in place on campus to prevent significant crowding in places if we do end up returning,” Levin-Antilla said.

Some students have expressed concerns about over-crowding on campus in classes and spaces such as the dining hall and the Quarry if all students are able to return. “The lack of space could become a real problem in the fall. The College needs to make a decision and tell us. Class sizes remain the same since course listings came out and the housing process still isn’t done. On top of all these uncertainties, even if it’s safe to come back in the fall, it’s going to be hard to maintain standard operating procedures so that we don’t have an outbreak on campus,” Sher Bahadur ’22 said.

Students from the Class of 2022 shared their disappointment with the situation. Ellery Coleman ’22 intended to study abroad in Norwich, England said, “It’s a huge disappointment but I think it’s the right decision for my program at least.” As of May 28, the United Kingdom had reported 267,240 cases of coronavirus and 37,460 deaths from the virus, according to the New York Times.

Sadie Fowler ’22, had intended to study abroad in Bologna, Italy in the Fall. “I’m really disappointed as this was something I was looking forward to and put a lot of time and effort into. But then I realized, it’s going to be okay. It might feel like opportunities are lost or wasted, but maybe it just means new opportunities will happen,” she said.

Students expected this decision, though, with the uncertainty of the situation maintaining. “Study abroad being cancelled didn’t really come as a surprise given other schools announcements and current travel restrictions around the world but it was still very disappointing to learn something I have been looking forward to for so long would not be happening,” Ashley Russo ’22 said. “It was disappointing, but expected news and I don’t have much hope for spring study abroad either. Studying abroad is something that I’ve been looking forward to since the moment I chose Dickinson. I hope that they will provide alternative study abroad options, perhaps something in the summer which will help students of all financial backgrounds seize this opportunity of the global education which Dickinson promises,” Bethany Petrunak ’22 said.

Ensign closed her email by stating that a decision about the fall semester will be released to the Dickinson College community by mid-June.