BOULDER, Colo., (CBS4) — The spread of the novel coronavirus is creating major, last-minute decisions for a large number of CU students studying around the world. On Friday, the university decided to suspend all study abroad programs in Italy.
Students currently studying abroad in the country have the option to transfer to programs in different countries or return home and continue their courses online.
Carly Remington, a junior, decided to come home just before CU made the decision. After studying in Florence for the past two months, she’ll spend the remainder of the semester living with her parents in Superior. It’s a far cry from the long list of experiences she had planned for the rest of the semester.
“It’s completely immersive and you learn so much about a different place and you learn different customs. I learned a lot,” Remington said.
According to CU, Remington is among 167 students affected by the decision. All had been participating in eight study abroad programs in Rome, Florence, Milan and other locations in Italy.
The decision came Friday, as the U.S. Department of State raised its travel warning to a Level 3 (reconsider travel) and the Centers for Disease Control raised its warning to a Level 3 (avoid nonessential travel) for Italy.
“Our decision to suspend the spring study abroad programs in Italy was based on these travel advisory updates,” a university spokesperson said via email.
“I know it was really upsetting for those who decided to stay, who were ultimately told ‘No, you need to come home now,’” Remington said. “I was less scared of getting the virus, and more scared of getting stuck in a foreign country away from home.”
Remington and other students will still be able to receive class credit, despite missing out on the full experience.
“My family was going to come visit me in two weeks actually, and I was excited to introduce them to everything,” Remington said.
For now, she’ll cherish the time she had in Italy.
“I think it’s better to look at the situation as, at least I got this experience even though it’s shorter,” she said.
Earlier this year, CU suspended programs in China and South Korea due to similar concerns. A total of 191 students studying abroad have been affected by the decisions, a university spokesperson said via email.