Students reflect on absent programs, Study Abroad

By Madeline Riccardi, Editor-in-Chief

The covid-19 pandemic led La Roche University to suspend all its Study Abroad trips indefinitely. The University required students on trips during March 2020 to return to the United States to keep them safe. A year later, there is still no sign that the trips will start again. A survey shows that 88 percent of La Roche students are interested in attending a Study Abroad trip in the immediate future.

The Redhawk Post conducted a survey to determine what percentage of La Roche students are interested in the Study Abroad program included in their tuition. Of the 1,500 students at La Roche, 73 took part in the survey. This included 11 freshmen, nine sophomores, 22 juniors, 28 seniors, and three graduate students.

Participants majors ranged from Film and Information Systems to Exercise and Sports Science. Their ages ranged from 18 to 53. The LRU students filled out the survey in March and April.

Nineteen students involved in graduate or undergraduate programs at La Roche said that they were to take part in a Study Abroad trip during one of the three semesters last year. Of these 19 students, three students were outside of the United States when the University announced La Roche was extending spring break.

Figure A: The survey asked 73 participants if the University accepted them to take place in a Study Abroad Trip during 2020. This infographic shows the percent of students set to be in attendance.

When asked about their experience learning that the University cancelled their trip, a 20-year-old junior remarked that they had a memorable experience cut short. “I was in Rome for five weeks, and then we all received the news that we would be returning home through an email,” the National Security Studies and Political Science major said.

Although three students were able attend their trip, five said they found out they would not be able to attend through email. Three students said they assumed that the covid-19 pandemic cancelled their trips, and six chose not to comment. Two students said Nicole Gable, Director of Study Abroad, alerted them.

Gable said that the Study Abroad Office will be following CDC safety guidelines once the Program starts again. “I have been working on the Pandemic Safety Team,” Gable said. “This temporary role has given me experience and insight into dealing with covid-19. I will use this insight as we develop our new safety protocols for travel.”

When these protocols will come into effect is unknown, according to Gable, with the Study Abroad Program still on hold.

“We will offer trips when we are able to do so safely. A few countries have announced their plans to reopen to fully vaccinated travelers, so we know that the future of Study Abroad is dependent on vaccinations,” Gable said.

The survey asked students if they would attend a Study Abroad trip if they were reintroduced to campus. Of those who responded, 59 said that they would attend.

Figure B: The survey asked 73 participants if they are interested in attending a Study Abroad trip. This infographic shows the percent of students interested in the Program.

“I’ve never left the country,” a Graphic Design and Marketing major said. “I believe everyone should have the opportunity because it could be life changing.”

This attitude about these trips was popular among La Roche students. Seventeen out of 59 students cited the thrill and adventure of leaving the country as their main reason for attending a Study Abroad trip.

“I’d love to travel out of the country, and I think it’d be both a valuable and memorable experience that I’d be able to look back on later in life,” a sophomore Literature Studies major said.

A memorable experience is something that students who have previously attended Study Abroad trips said was the reason they would attend another.

“It was the most amazing thing I’ve ever done. The whole trip was planned out and I could just sit back and enjoy,” a 22-year-old Professional Writing and Journalism major said. “We went to Iceland, so for me it was the scenery, the food, and just being with friends that made it so memorable.”

Although five students found the culture to be the most memorable part of the trip, eight said the friendships they made were their favorite part.

“I was able to make great friendships with those who I went with. Some [were people] who I never would have met due to [us having] different majors and both being commuters,” a senior Criminology and Criminal Justice major said.

Figure C: The survey asked 73 participants what their most memorable part of Study Abroad was if they attended. This infographic shows the categories the students favored.

The La Roche students who have not been able to attend a study abroad trip said they looked favorably to a time when they can attend.

The respondents who have not yet attended described the reasons they would take part in the Study Abroad Program:

  • 16 referenced its inclusion in student tuition
  • 15 referenced the opportunity to be part of different cultures
  • 11 referenced a specific place or trip

Of the 16 students who mentioned the Program’s inclusion in tuition, 13 said it was the only reason they would attend a trip.

A senior History major said, “I feel like it would be a waste to not go since ‘it’s included in our tuition.’”

“[The Program] is part of the reason as to why I chose La Roche, since Study Abroad is included in tuition,” another 22-year-old Exercise Science major said.

Other students look more favorably to experiencing new cultures than making the most out of their tuition.

A senior International Studies major said, “It’s a life changing experience and another chance to get to know other cultures.”

“I want to travel with my friends and future teachers to experience new cultures and have amazing experiences,” a 21-year-old Elementary and Special Education major said.

Four La Roche students want to attend a Study Abroad trip to go to the Galapagos Islands, while six students want to revisit places.

It is unclear if La Roche students will be able to attend their trips like they used to.

“I don’t think anything,” Gable said, “will ever be exactly as it was before. I think many aspects of our lives have been changed. Travel and educational travel might not look the same in the future, but I do believe we will travel again.”

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