Pandemic + Study Abroad = No Problem!

Melanie Garza
September 27, 2021

Hi everybody! This past week the thing everyone fears happened… people got COVID-19. Fortunately it wasn’t serious for anybody, but I still thought it’s worth talking about considering this is the first time IES Abroad sent students abroad post-pandemic. Of course we have to try to be careful, but a big part of studying abroad is going out and exploring your location so what’s the right balance between caution and enjoying your city? 

Honestly, I don’t know if there is a ~right~ balance, but there is a balance that is to everyone’s comfort level individually. First of all, to my knowledge most students are vaccinated so that helps, but it is also worth talking about how likely it is that you get COVID-19 while studying abroad. Even if you don’t go out at all and wear your mask at all times except for when you’re eating, it’s very likely that you could be having lunch with someone who does go out and is unmasked at times. Of course the vaccines help a lot, but there is still a good chance you or someone around you will get sick. That’s just the reality we live in now. 

So, should we go out or stay in and wear masks at all times?? Personally, I think follow guidelines for your location. In Madrid, for example, masks are required at all times except for eating/drinking and if you can maintain 6+ feet between you and others. I also think we have to take advantage of the fact that we are studying abroad and go out and enjoy it ! I think we’d all regret doing an entire semester or year abroad and not going out and enjoying it. It would just seem like a waste in my opinion.

This balance is what I’ve been trying to follow, but of course since there are many factors going into exposure than just your own habits, people around me got COVID-19. Obviously it sucked for those who had it and I don’t want to seem ungrateful that I was lucky enough not to get it, but in the grand scheme of things, it wasn’t too bad. Yes, we had to quarantine until we tested negative, but that’s only fair. If you follow the protocols in place for the case in which students test positive it’ll just be a small pause in your stay and then you’ll be back to enjoying your city and exploring. 

It’s very odd that we live in a time when getting COVID-19 or being exposed to it is normal and almost inevitable. I think it’s good to acknowledge this though, and try to move forward with whatever implications that brings. At this point it seems most cities, businesses, schools, etc. are moving into a “new normal” so I think maybe it’s time we do too. All the plans we had before the pandemic we can hit unpause on and continue with a new level of caution. 

Now that I’ve been abroad for almost a month I can say that I don’t really feel as though the pandemic is robbing me from any experiences I would’ve had otherwise. Masks are a thing but other than that I think my time here would’ve looked pretty similar had the pandemic never happened. This is all to encourage you all to start doing things again! I’m extremely happy I made the decision to study abroad even though I wasn’t sure how it would be with the pandemic. If you’re hesitating on doing something or postponing it because of the pandemic I’d say stop and go do it! It’s looking like the virus is not going away and all we can do now or any time in the future is to take advised precautions, follow protocols, and continue living our lives. 

With that said, my quarantine and my friends’ quarantine is over now, and we are all COVID-19 negative yaaaaay! Now I’m gonna go back out there and live it UP. Talk to y’all soon <3

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Melanie Garza

<p>Hi, I’m Melanie! I’m a senior at Carnegie Mellon University, majoring in Physics. After graduation, I plan on attending graduate school in pursuit of a Ph.D. in Physics. While I love STEM, I also love the arts! I’m part of an a cappella group, I’m in my school’s non-major orchestra as a violinist, I like to draw and paint, and I’ve dabbled in some dance too. It’s important for me to keep a balance between all my interests, which also include working out (at the gym only - I am NOT athletic, unfortunately) and outdoor activities that don’t involve swimming since that’s something I can’t do. I know, shame. I’m really looking forward to exploring all my hobbies and interests in the context of a new culture. I am fluent in Spanish since I was raised in Mexico so Spain will be full of possibilities!</p>

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