The University of Georgia has canceled all Maymester study abroad programs, according to the UGA coronavirus information page. All summer study abroad programs are continuing to be monitored.
Maymester study abroad programs in China, South Korea and Italy were canceled on March 5. UGA has 68 Maymesters located across the world, as listed on the Office of Global Engagement’s website.
“We will continue to monitor the evolving situation and provide an update on programs to be conducted in the United States, as well as the status of Summer programs, when warranted,” the university’s website said.
Sophomore landscape architecture major Sallie Smith said she planned to go to Cortona, Italy, from June until the beginning of August.
“I was looking forward to the possibilities of how the trip could change the way I approach design,” Smith said.
Despite losing credits she would have gained from this summer, Smith doesn’t think the cancellation will set her back academically.
Other students, like junior Emily Royal, scrambled to rearrange academic credits after learning of her program’s cancellation. The advertising and interdisciplinary art and design double major was accepted into the three-week Cannes Lions Festival Study Abroad for advertising this summer. On March 18, the festival announced it would be postponed until October.
Royal was supposed to use the two credits from this summer for her graduate degree in advertising, she said. Royal said she needed these credits to stay on track for her graduate degree through the Double Dawgs program, which allows UGA students to earn a bachelor’s and master’s degree in five years. Royal said she needs a certain number of graduate level classes to count toward her undergraduate degree.
“For the past few weeks I’ve been freaking out online, switching up all my classes and trying to figure out how to graduate [from undergrad] on time,” Royal said.
Though Royal thinks she will be able to finish her undergraduate advertising degree in spring next year, she anticipates finishing her interdisciplinary art and design undergraduate degree after taking summer classes in 2021.
“This summer I have a completely full course load, so I’ll be in Athens all summer piling on classes, working 9 to 5 every day just to stay on track for the most part,” Royal said. “I definitely won’t be able to graduate in the spring anymore.”
According to UGA’s study away program withdrawal policy, in the case that programs are canceled due to unforeseen crises, UGA refunds “all program fees paid to UGA,” including initial deposits.
The policy states if there is a Level 3 travel advisory and the program is canceled, students will receive a full refund. The State Department currently has a Level 4 global travel advisory, indicating “do not travel” for every country.
Though students gain back deposits, their disappointment in the program cancellations is clear.
“Overall, I am just super bummed for missing out on what I thought would be the summer of a lifetime. Having to find new summer plans at such a short notice is not exactly ideal or easy in this uncertain time,” Smith said.
Despite this, students understand the complexity and nature of the circumstances.
“Looking at the greater picture of the world right now and safety for humankind as a whole, I completely understand all the cancellations,” Royal said. “At that point, we just have to roll with the punches and adapt.”