Pandemic Chronicles #7: Adventures lost

Our study abroad group at Coventry Cathedral, England, 1981

A couple of weeks ago, our study abroad group from college met for a Zoom-enabled happy hour/mini-reunion. It was the latest gathering of our spring 1981 semester abroad cohort from Valparaiso University’s program in Cambridge, England.

I can think of no other chapter in my life that so instantly flips on my personal nostalgia channel. I’ve written about that special semester many times on this blog (such as here, “First-time sojourn across the pond”). Here’s a snippet of what I wrote in 2016:

I was embarking on the most formative educational experience of my life. The semester would create enduring memories, new perspectives, and lifelong friendships. The seeds it planted permeate my life today, ranging from the way I live, to my choice of vocation, to how I spend my typical day.

One of the great sadnesses of the current coronavirus pandemic is how many thousands of college students may be denied similar opportunities. Right now, it’s highly questionable whether their main campuses will even be open for residential classes in the fall, much less offering study abroad options. Even when those possibilities begin manifesting themselves again, a lot of students (and their parents) may understandably be hesitant to take the plunge.

I dearly hope that a combination of smart public health practices and new developments in medicine will control the ravages of this virus sooner than later. Saving lives, preserving health, and re-opening our economic and civic society are, of course, our main priorities. The return of life-changing opportunities to spend meaningful time in other parts of the world would be welcomed, too, along with a renewed sense of adventure to take advantage of them.

2 responses

  1. My youngest daughter was having the time of her life studying in Stockholm. Because of the pandemic, she had to come home in March. Thank goodness she made it home in good health. But she has not been at all happy finishing her semester abroad from our attic on Zoom. First world problems, I know. But there are a lot of disappointed college students out there. Add to that the fact that if they are able to graduate on time, they will enter the job market in the midst of the worst economic downturn since the 1930s.

    1. Bob, I’m so sorry that your daughter was unable to finish her semester in Stockholm. This is exactly the kind of disappointment being visited upon students all over the world this semester.

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