Gonzaga’s campus is starting to see more action for the spring 2021 semester, but the university’s global campuses are becoming ghost towns as COVID-19 brings abroad studies to a temporary stop. 

In-person access to abroad campuses are closed for the time being, but the Center for Global Engagement is still making efforts to have limited study abroad courses available to students for the summer 2021 semester. 

Alisha Lombardi, interim director at the Center for Global Engagement, said that the health and safety of GU students is the No. 1 priority, and at times like these it’s been difficult to provide students with the full experience being that there are travel restrictions in places where GU has campuses. 

“Faculty in Florence have been giving access to parts of the city that students and tourists would never see,” Lombardi said.

GU in Florence is trying to run as many virtual opportunities for students as they can. Although students can’t physically go to other countries to complete their semesters but there is no worry about GU maintaining its reputation as a global campus. 

“The applications for study abroad in the fall 2021 semester are moving forward and applications are open on our website, with Gonzaga in Florence closing Jan. 22 and most others closing March 1,” said Study Abroad Advisor Erin Schultheis.

Even though COVID-19 has paused programs for now, Schultheis doesn’t foresee it greatly affecting the number of study abroad program involvement in the future. 

The study abroad offices across the world are seeing a shift in numbers but at some point in the foreseeable future, participation could pick up again. 

“Gonzaga has a strong history of 50% or more of students who participate in a study abroad experience and we hope that number will be similar once the program resumes," Schultheis said. "There’s a possibility that we’ll see a short-term drop in participation due to challenges COVID-19 has brought, but once infection rates decline globally we expect a rebound."

Connor Nordell, a sophomore at GU, was ready to go abroad this semester until study abroad programs got canceled in November. 

“I am bummed about not being able to go abroad but looking at the big picture I am thankful I can still get an education and live on campus,” Nordell said. “I can't study abroad a different semester because of my major, but I know Gonzaga is doing what they can.”

Nordell is one of many GU students who had a small window of opportunity to go abroad but has had to readjust their plans because of the pandemic. 

Not all Zags are going to get the opportunity to experience the global campuses that GU partners with because the course work they need for their majors doesn’t allow them to do so later on.

GU and its partnering campuses are aware that the abroad experience is a big part of the Zag experience and they’re eager to give that opportunity back to students. 

“As soon as it’s safe to do, we look forward to sending and receiving abroad students," Schultheis said. "We appreciate the tremendous resiliency and flexibility of students when it comes to the cancellation of fall 2020 and spring 2021 study abroad plans." 

For any other questions, comments or concerns, Schultheis can be reached at this email: schultheis@gonzaga.edu.

Kayla Friedrich is a staff writer. Follow her @friedrich_kayla.

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