Graphic by Mikayla Moore-Bastide
Graphic by Mikayla Moore-Bastide

Plans to study abroad in the Czech Republic during COVID-19

Journalism student looking to study abroad is questioning her decision
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Journalism student looking to study abroad is questioning her decision

My study abroad program in Prague, Czech Republic, takes place next semester.

I speak in the present tense because it has not been canceled or postponed. The program is still set to happen. With this information, I keep asking myself, if the European Union miraculously opens up to the United States by Dec. and I am given the ability to travel to Prague, would I go?

Well, yeah, most likely.

However, there’s a lot to take into account.

The program takes place from Feb. 2, 2021, to May 22, 2021.

I bought my plane ticket back in April 2020 when it was ridiculously cheap, so there’s that going for me.

I got my passport in Jan. which was super exciting. I would need to start getting my documents together to obtain my visa by Jan. 2021.

There’s a lot of planning involved in something that is very uncertain.

I’ve been having a lot of conflicting thoughts about studying abroad during COVID-19. Would I feel safe flying on a plane for 20 hours to get to Europe? What if there was another global shutdown while I was overseas? Would I be satisfied with my classes and internship being online? If I didn’t go, would this be one of the biggest regrets of my life?

I’ve been so careful since March. I have been wearing my mask correctly, I’m constantly washing my hands, using hand sanitizer, keeping my distance, and I’m staying at home unless getting groceries or working. I’ve following all the rules here, why would it be any different there?

Airlines have been taking the extra mile to deeply cleanse and sanitize the cabins, as well as limiting the number of people being put on an airplane. Would this still happen in 2021 for an international flight? I really don’t know.

Upon arrival, I’m fully aware that I would have to self-quarantine for two weeks. Although self-quarantining sucks and is extremely boring, it would be absolutely necessary and worth it because I’d be living there for four months anyways.

Now, another question would be, why would I travel across the world just to take some online classes for a few months. The experience! Being in a different country, experiencing the culture and of course eating the food. There wouldn’t be another time in my life that I’d have the chance to temporarily live in another country to go to school. It’s an opportunity unlike any other.

Why would some students travel back to Humboldt State University just to take online classes? For the town, the environment, to get away from home, or even to just be here.

If there was another global shutdown, I think I’d be okay being in the Czech Republic considering the U.S., specifically California, hasn’t been doing so great with the shelter in place order anyways. Would I technically be safer? I mean, maybe. The Czech Republic as a country has a smaller population than California and a lower rate of positive cases. So, yeah, it’s a possibility I could be safer.

The program is being very transparent and answering a lot of questions that students like me had been having for the past four months. The information being provided has to do with the possibility of online internships, whether or not obtaining my visa is still worth it, how refunds would be issued, and even safety protocols for housing and such.

I feel as though, as long as I am not being irresponsible and acting like an ignorant American tourist, it would be okay.

I would just be wearing my mask (correctly) and minding my own business.

However, this is only if the EU lifts the U.S. travel ban, which may not happen anytime soon.

To je zivot?

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2 Comments

  1. Dev Kabra Dev Kabra Thursday, September 24, 2020

    Very well written my friend. I am in the exact same situation as yours, same mixed feelings about whether to go for Semester exchange or not. Will I be safe there during the pandemic, or should I drop the plans of studying abroad but again not regretting about this in the future. Anyways let’s hope for the best!

  2. John Goddard John Goddard Friday, October 2, 2020

    Hi Mikayla,

    Prague is not in good shape right now. While we started off so well compared to other countries, but the situation has changed. Frankly, if you took the trip way over here, you’d just be swapping walls and routines with those you have in Humboldt. I fear you’ll need to wait out this experience.

    There are a staggering number of deaths on both sides of the pond: 191,000 (EU/EEA & UK) vs 212,000 (US). While there are many more people here than stateside, and we do enjoy the right to affordable healthcare, our hospitals and medical professionals are getting strained with the start of wave 2. In September alone, active cases spiked 8-fold in the Czech Republic due to relaxed precautions. Beautiful Prague is our Covid hot spot, particularly among students. After the Czech GDP tanked 11% in the summer, the government and citizens here have been reluctant to reimpose the same strict civic-minded precautions that were so incredibly effective here against the spread of Covid earlier this year.

    As an alum, I know the weather sucks in Humboldt. But God how I miss the scent of redwoods and ferns in the rain. Or the salt air and deep thud of the surf…
    In the midst of this pandemic, remember you are surrounded by so much beauty to safely enjoy.

    Prague is always here, but make that experience in better times.

    John Goddard
    HSU alum 1986

    See: https://www.ecdc.europa.eu/en/covid-19-pandemic

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