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How the cancellation of UT abroad courses affects students

by Maddi Dolan

With coronavirus rapidly spreading across the globe, it is causing uncertainty regarding what’s to come in the summer months. Universities all across the U.S. have put a halt on summer travel courses, including The University of Tampa. 

UT students were told their summer travel courses would be canceled back in March when COVID-19 had begun spreading rapidly and fellow UT spring study-abroad students were asked to return to the U.S.

The UT education abroad portal released an announcement stating, “Due to COVID-19, all summer study abroad programs have been cancelled. This includes UT travel courses and Service Provider options (courses and internships) everywhere in the world. If you paid UT any portion of your fees, your reimbursement is in process.”

Although students are being reimbursed for their courses, many are still disappointed that they will no longer be going abroad this summer. For Chloe Wimpfheimer, a junior criminology major, this was her last chance to take summer classes abroad before graduating next May. 

Wimpfheimer was planning to take classes in Madrid, Spain so she could better her Spanish speaking. She was hoping to take a Spanish proficiency test to gain a Certificate to International Studies at UT. 

“I’m really upset because I was hoping to become fluent in Spanish before graduating. And on top of that now I won’t even be able to travel until I graduate,” said Wimpfheimer. 

Currently, Spain has the second highest number of confirmed cases of Coronavirus globally.  As of Thursday, April 23rd, Spain has a total 213,024 confirmed cases. The United States has the most confirmed cases globally, with a total of 886,529. 

Another hot zone for coronavirus is the United Kingdom, which has a total of 138,078  confirmed cases as of April 23rd, 2020. The UK now has a total of 18,738 deaths due to coronavirus and research shows the number of new cases of COVID-19 increases by roughly 5,000 each day despite quarantine efforts. 

Sydnie Lubbers, sophomore biology major, was planning on taking a course in London, England this summer to learn about Darwin and his theories of evolution and natural selection. The trip was for the course “On The Origin of Species,” led by UT professor of Biology, Mason Meers.

This course, like many other UT travel courses, has both an in-class and travel component. Students will still receive two credits for the class portion taken this semester, but will not receive the other two credits for the travel portion. 

“I’m sad and disappointed we’re not able to go, I was really looking forward to it,” said Lubbers. “I’ve learned so much this semester that I wanted to apply to the trip this summer. We were supposed to go to Darwin’s house and visit research facilities that inspired him.” 

Maddie Giersz, junior biology major, was also planning on gaining credits abroad this summer. Giersz was supposed to go on a mission trip to Lima, Peru in May to assist in medical clinics. The trip would have been led by Amy Bowersock, professor of Health Sciences and Human Performance. 

The trip was through MedLife, an organization that helps families achieve greater freedom from the constraints of poverty by improving their access to medical care, education and community development. 

“At first I thought we were going to continue on with the trip this summer through MedLife, but then UT decided to cancel all trips abroad,” said Giersz. “But, it looks like UT is trying to reschedule our trip to Peru for January 2021.” 

Even travel courses outside of the summer months are still uncertain at this time.

On UT’s COVID-19 Resources and Updates page it states, “The University has canceled all study abroad programming in all countries for May term, all summer sessions and Fall semester. For questions, contact the International Programs Office at abroad@ut.edu.”

While coronavirus is still spreading across the globe, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reports that there will be a peak in the near future. CDC director, Robert Redfield said, “I think we’re coming to the peak, we’re able to see the other side of the curve,” in an interview with CNN.

The CDC still doesn’t know exactly when COVID-19 will peak in the coming weeks, which leaves the summer months uncertain.

Maddi Dolan can be reached at maddilyn.dolan@spartans.ut.edu 

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