Family Emergencies Abroad

Gabrielle Greenberg
March 15, 2022

Note - I do criticize IES Abroad in this blog post, but these opinions are my own and based solely on my own experience at IES Abroad Milan.

This is not the kind of post I though that I would be making during my time abroad, but as we all know, life is full of the unexpected.

Things happen, the rest of the world doesn't pause while you are having the best time traveling. This means that while you are thousands of miles away from home, something tragic could happen, like a death in the family.

Recently, I woke up and recieved a call telling me that my grandfather had passed away during the night. After the initial shock, I had so many thoughts running through my mind: "I need to book a flight home." "How many absences am I going to accumulate?" "Do I have to tell IES Abroad that I'm leaving for a week?" etc...

I threw on a sweatshirt and leggings, and headed to the IES Abroad center to start sorting things out. After I scanned into the building, I made my way to the student affairs office, explained what happened, and stressed out over everything.

IES Abroad was so supportive. There are so many things that they can do to help you - we sat for 30 minutes looking for the best flights I can take, talking about the policies in place for these situations, and just getting my life organized. Everything about how IES handles these types of things are wonderful.

Except for one thing - the attendance policy.

Here is how attendance policies work: you get 2 excused absences for each class, after that, every absence is 2 points off your final grade. If you reach 7 absences, including the 2 excused ones, you fail the class.

I completely understand the policy and I am not going to complain, but according to IES Abroad we get these 2 absences for situations such as these; family emergencies, sickness, personal issues preventing you from attending class, etc. 

I completely disagree with this policy in the sense that it should be case-by-case. I have already used 2 of my absences because I had food poisoning for a few days. There are no exceptions to this policy. I can go home and take an extra few absences, and have my grade lowered, but I just can't take that risk. IES Abroad is essentially making me choose between passing my classes and attending my grandfather's funeral.

I took those 2 absences already because 1) I was not going to go to class throwing up all day, and 2) there was absolutely no reason for me to believe that I would need to go home for a week.

I know students who have come to class sick because they think they will need these absences in the future for something more urgent. And I think that is absurd.

The point is, be careful with attendance, the policies suck. (And no, I am not going to the funeral).

Overall, student affairs did everything they could, and even let me take an exam at a later date. They were just following IES Abroad policy, so I absolutely do not blame the staff in the Milan office, but I do blame those at IES Abroad who created these terrible attendance policies.

Gabrielle Greenberg

<p>Hi! I’m Gabrielle, I go by Gabby and I am from downtown Chicago, IL and a junior at Indiana University Bloomington studying marketing. I have 3 dogs, I love chocolate, vlogging, and long walks on the beach (just kidding I really don’t like sand). XO &lt;3</p>

2022 Spring
Home University:
Indiana University
Chicago, IL
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