While we are all rather used to the COVID-19 pandemic altering our usual activities, the possibility of studying abroad next semester poses a unique challenge to students like myself. We have to cope with and accept the fact that our study abroad program will not be what we hoped nor thought it would be like. My program has already notified us of the many changes and precautions in place for next semester, including both that we are not permitted to travel outside of the country and that we must be prepared to switch to online classes at any time. While the changes to my program will definitely alter what my experience will be like, I am thankful for the opportunity granted by Skidmore to go abroad at all, choosing to see the upsides to such restrictions, and hopeful that these changes will ensure a safe and successful semester for us as students studying abroad. For instance, I am excited to be able to explore Denmark more than I would have if I had been able to travel internationally – I will get to see more Danish cities and more obscure/remote areas than I probably would have tried to seek out.
For my program, they are increasing the food stipend, sending us different cultural and wellness packages, and ensuring that we are aware of the likely program changes. I feel comforted that my program is determined to host students next semester and that Skidmore is dedicated to sending students abroad in the safest way possible. Furthermore, DIS Copenhagen is advising us to book a round-trip flight directly between the US and Denmark, supporting us between our arrival, testing, and isolation/quarantine, if necessary, and informing us of the societal norms during the pandemic – small social gatherings, regular mask-wearing, de-densified housing, and respecting local business practices/regulations. There will be an additional challenge to adapt to cultural norms around COVID-19, especially as an American, so we will have to be both flexible and respectful of the many potential changes that could occur during our semester abroad.
With an optimistic attitude, I am connecting with students who are also traveling abroad through my program through the Facebook Group, continuing to check my email for more information from Skidmore and from my program, and completing my online orientation course. I know that the global situation of the pandemic is volatile and could change at any time, but I am choosing to be optimistic, excited and hopeful for what my next semester abroad will bring.