Kelly Gallagher ‘22
In an email issued to students who had applied to study abroad programs during the 2020-21 academic year, the Office of Study Abroad announced on October 21 that it had canceled all but four of its spring study abroad programs.
The email explained that the Office had carefully monitored the public health situation at its planned international destinations. They used “a number of diagnostic tools and other factors such as medical infrastructure to calculate the risk of contracting and being treated for COVID-19 at each of our sites abroad,” and had examined data for the abroad institutions’ locations on local, regional, and national levels. Due to the recent spike in coronavirus cases in most locations which had previously been reasonable options, the Office canceled all of its programs except four: College Year in Athens (CYA), the University of Bamberg, C.E.T Taiwan, and Mansfield College, Oxford.
The email also offered students the opportunity to study abroad during their senior year. Seniors have the option to not only study abroad during the Fall Semester, but for the whole academic year, though that option would push back participating students’ graduation date from Spring 2022 to Fall 2022.
CYA is a brand-new opportunity to many students. It is usually available only to Classics majors, but exceptions are being made to accomodate students from all majors, given the circumstances. For those interested, they must commit to the CYA program by Monday, November 2, at noon. Students who commit waive their claims to on-campus housing for the spring semester, but Study Abroad provides students with a safety net. Students will still be able to take classes at the college and may find off-campus housing, so Study Abroad offers participating students the option to connect with each other and find apartment roommates, if the need arises.
Professor Brittain Smith, Director of Study Abroad, shared insights with The Spire regarding CYA’s potential for study abroad students next spring. The Office has especially emphasized this program, hosting a virtual open house for interested students on October 23. In an email exchange with The Spire, Professor Smith explained why the Office has promoted the CYA program in particular, writing, “There are several reasons, actually, but the most important is Greece’s very effective measures to control the outbreak of COVID-19. As of now, Greece, and Attica (the region in which Athens is located) in particular, is one of the few sites in the world that meets Holy Cross Study Abroad’s COVID-19 safety requirements. On top of that, CYA is one of the very best, ‘non-Holy Cross programs’ (what the field of International Education calls “provider programs”) I–and more importantly, our students–have ever encountered. For a provider program, it has a broad curriculum and the professors are top-notch; classes are rigorous, often on-site, and engaging. Athens is a fabulous city and the Greeks are ebulliently welcoming and hospitable. The food is great and, for a major European capital city, Athens is relatively inexpensive. It’s just a gorgeous city and a fantastic place to be.”
While the programs at C.E.T. Taiwan, the University of Bamberg, and Mansfield College, Oxford, are open to transfer applications, they each come with non-negotiable requirements. Professor Smith explained, “C.E.T. Taiwan and The University of Bamberg expect the equivalent of 4 semesters of college-level Chinese and German, respectively. Mansfield College requires a minimum 3.7 cumulative GPA and a minimum 3.7 also in the major(s). If anyone meets these qualifications and wishes to transfer into any of these programs, s/he should contact me, Professor Smith firstname.lastname@example.org, right away.” A few students have already successfully transferred into the various programs, and others await results.
The Office of Study Abroad remains resilient in its efforts to safely provide students with spring study abroad options, public health conditions permitting. Professor Smith illustrated the Office’s goals for the spring, writing, “As always, but especially in “The Age of COVID,” we want our students to have a safe and healthy experience abroad. No matter how low the incidents of COVID are, the virus is out there, which means we are placing enormous trust in our great Holy Cross students to act responsibly and adhere to social distancing, masking up, and avoiding crowded indoor spaces. Even while maintaining these practices, we believe it is possible for students to interact safely and meaningfully with their host institutions and cultures. We want our students to have a great academic and social experience, one that is rewarding intellectually and personally, one they will look back on as having transformed who they are and having enlarged how they think and how they engage with the global world we inhabit.”
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