Students studying abroad are facing a unique set of challenges amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
Louisa Ehrlich, the associate director of international programs, said “All providers that Doane works with have cancelled their summer programs. Providers are now offering virtual international internship programs, changing and updating their refund and cancellation policies, and doing their best to continue providing good experiences for students.”
A handful of students have had to completely cancel their study abroad plans, but most students have rescheduled their trips.
According to Ehrlich, plans for Travel Courses have been moved to the summer of 2021, and several students who had planned for independent summer study abroad will be unable to do so this year.
Travel Course faculty leaders and Ehrlich have individually contacted each student with study abroad plans to arrange alternate scheduling, refunds, and trip cancellations.
Junior Aztryd Lima is supposed to study abroad in the Fall 2020 term in Cuzco, Perú. She said that her plans have not been cancelled so far, but the program she is using will allow her to choose a different semester to study abroad if it does get cancelled.
Lima hopes that her plans will not change because her schedule is not very flexible and study abroad is required for her to graduate.
Ehrlich and Jared List, Associate Professor of Modern Languages, have helped Lima navigate possible changes to her study abroad plans and she expressed her gratitude for all their help.
Junior Maya Mohr plans to study abroad in the Fall 2020 term in Seville, Spain through the Spanish Studies Abroad program. She originally planned to study in Spain for over 90 days, but due to new restrictions and new difficulties of applying for a visa in the United States, her trip will be 90 days or less.
Mohr said that Spanish Studies Abroad has implemented several changes in response to COVID-19, such as, “Canceled… summer programs and extended deadlines for applying for all fall programs up until the day before departure.”
Her program has also allowed students to cancel their trips the day before the program begins, and it has lowered GPA requirements for some programs.
Junior Sean Murray is from Panamá and is currently studying abroad at Doane. He said that the changes due to COVID-19 have affected him the same as other Doane students.
Murray plans to stay in the United States for the summer and return to Doane in the fall.
When COVID-19 first affected the U.S., Murray said he was unsure of how the rest of his semester would look. He thought he would either be going back to Panamá or staying at Doane to finish the term, but instead, he is staying in Lincoln with one of his roommates.