My Decision to Study Abroad in a World with Covid

Caroline Muniz ’23

Photo courtesy of Caroline Muniz

Traveling around the world has been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember. I discovered that studying abroad was an option for college students to pursue while I was in middle school. After learning more about it, studying abroad became the only part of my future that was certain. Although I had no direction of where to go, it did not matter to me as long as I could travel somewhere new. My decision seemed more clear than ever, until it wasn’t. 

Covid has added many unexpected factors to both the decision to study abroad as well as the experience itself. When applying to study abroad in November of 2020, I was sitting at my desk in my childhood bedroom. Independence seemed like a far off dream, let alone traveling the world. I originally chose to study abroad in Australia. It was appealing to fully commit to the program by traveling around the world to a place that I may never have the opportunity to go to again. 

Almost a year later in fall 2021, students who chose to study abroad in Australia for the upcoming spring semester were told that the country has closed its borders and it was highly recommended that they change programs, wait to go until fall 2022, or choose to not study abroad at all. I was forced to consider what studying abroad in a Covid world would be like. There was now a growing fear that if I chose to study abroad, would I be able to have the experiences and adventures that I dreamed about since middle school? 

Covid restrictions and new traveling guidelines now had to be considered in the decision and they made a great difference. Since Australia had so many regulations to prevent the spread of Covid, studying there began to look like the previous semesters. I would be stuck in my bedroom waiting for things to get better. The unknown was the scariest part. There was no way to know for certain what the semester would be like. Therefore, the decision had so many more factors to be looked at, because we were living in a new world. Although looking at all these different scenarios made the decision overwhelming, I could not deny that this was something I wanted for so long. Therefore, I had to take a chance on it. 

I am now studying abroad at Trinity College in Dublin and I could not be happier with my decision. However, I must acknowledge that I have been very lucky when it comes to restrictions. Covid restrictions were lifted about two weeks after I first arrived in January. One of the best parts of being in Europe is the ability to travel to other countries and I am lucky enough to be able to do that now. I was able to travel to Italy for my spring break, which was a dream come true. With this freedom, a new anxiety has been born. Despite the lifted restrictions, the thought always lives in my mind that getting Covid is still possible and it is still an issue. 

Studying abroad has changed my life, and, at the end of the day, Covid has made me even more appreciative of the experience. 

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