Amid the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, the University announced on Wednesday that it is assessing the placement of study abroad students worldwide.
In an interview with The News-Letter, junior Siena DeMatteo, who was studying in Bologna, recalled learning that she would have to return to the U.S.
“On Sunday the 23, my classes were canceled for the week and from there, little by little, the situation worsened,” she said. “It felt inevitable, but the fact that I had gotten confirmation just before going to sleep that Friday night that my program was still on and then waking up to that news Saturday morning was definitely a shock. But at the end of the day, I knew it was going to come to this.”
According to the Hub, seven undergraduates studying abroad in Italy have returned or are returning soon to the U.S. The decision to suspend these programs came after Italy was designated as level three by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. State Department on Friday. This indicates that the public should avoid non-essential travel to Italy, where more than 3,000 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed.
When travel warnings reach this level, the University requires the suspension of all study abroad programs in that country.
Currently in Baltimore, DeMatteo does not necessarily feel safer back in the U.S., where the CDC has told the public to prepare for an outbreak. However, she understands the reasoning behind her return from Italy.
Although she initially considered continuing her coursework online, she is now thinking of withdrawing from the program.
She said that she will confer with the Office of Study Abroad, as well as Academic Advising, who are working with students to transfer credits toward their degrees.
“I have no idea about my academic standing right now. That’s probably the biggest question mark at this point, and that goes for everyone on my program,” she said. “Things are being figured out by the day.”
DeMatteo added that the University has been supportive. As long as she is still able to meet her requirements for graduation, she is exploring the idea of travelling domestically with other students from her program.
“It’s been a learning experience… and the only thing I can do is hang tight and try to enjoy the company I have and make plans for the next three months, given that I won’t be living in Bologna,” she said. “I’m in the process of figuring out how this will factor into my four-year experience, but it’s definitely resulted in a lot of growth and resilience already. And I think it all may continue to do so as I carry on the next few months.”