An abrupt end to study abroad

Lauren Labadini, Op-Ed Writer

Due to COVID-19, this semester was not how I thought it was going to be, but I know we’re all in the same boat. On Jan. 8, I left my suburban Massachusetts town to study abroad in Athens, Greece. On March 13, I returned home — two months before I was supposed to.

My roommates and I had been constantly watching the news and checking every day to see the number of Coronavirus cases in Greece because we were all so worried about being sent home. We all knew people who were abroad in Italy and a few other countries who were being sent home, and we held onto hope that we wouldn’t have to leave. Greece had a limited number of cases at first and the country was doing a good job of containing the cases it had at that time. That all changed during the week of March 8 when my roommates and I woke up to the news that there were now 66 cases throughout the country, due to a plane with multiple infected people landing in Greece. From there on out, we knew we had limited time left in in the country. 

It still feels so surreal that I had to come home two months early; everything happened so quickly. My roommates and I all decided to leave Greece after Trump made the announcement that the borders were closing (we got news our program was canceled anyway a few hours later) and we all stayed up all night packing, snacking, crying and desperately looking for flights. I knew that leaving Greece early was inevitable, but I didn’t expect it to be so sudden.

While I’m terribly sad that I had to leave Greece, the school and all my friends, I know that Greece and the rest of the world will still be there in the future and I can always go back on my own accord. I’m grateful for the friends I made, all the memories and the few travel opportunities I did have. It’s very disheartening to think that I could be in Greece right now, but I’m trying to be happy despite that. 

While I was still in Greece, the school shut down due to a student being infected with Coronavirus, and all classes were moved online. As of right now, the school is still shut down and online classes are being held for the foreseeable future. Classes end in early April, so there’s not too much time left. Continuing classes online is hard enough, but being in a different time zone is tough — I often forget how much of a difference seven hours actually is. It’s also tough because some of my professors hold online lectures as opposed to just assignments, and I have to make an effort to wake up at 6 a.m. to attend them.

I genuinely loved all of my classes and my professors abroad. It was so amazing to learn things from a different perspective and I dearly miss attending these classes in person. It does make it a little easier knowing that all students and professors are in the same boat. I’m grateful that all of my professors have been so understanding and kind throughout this whole mess.