USC study abroad programs suspended through 2021

The University felt that the unpredictable nature of the COVID-19 pandemic could result in a slew of last minute challenges for students.

USC extended the suspension of its study abroad programs through spring 2021 on Tuesday due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to an update to the University’s website.

The decision does not include Maymester programs, which will be reevaluated later in the semester.

“Given the evolving and unpredictable situation with the COVID-19 pandemic and an increasing number of cancellations of programs by study abroad partners, we made this decision to ensure the health, safety and well-being of our students, and to provide them with enough time to make alternative plans for the spring semester,” the update read.

The update also cited the need to eliminate potential challenges “that would arise as a result of last-minute program cancellations, unexpected travel restrictions, international housing constraints and more.”

Georgia Stahl, an international programs coordinator for the Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism, said that the decision came from “the school Deans, the central administration and the Office for Strategic and Global Initiatives,” in an email to Annenberg Media.

James Clark, a junior majoring in linguistics and cognitive science, planned on studying at the University of Melbourne in Australia during the spring 2021 semester. While unsurprised by the decision, Clark was frustrated after reworking his schedule to fit in a study abroad opportunity.

“I’ve wanted to go to Australia for my whole life really. When I was a senior in high school, I was looking at actually going to school full time abroad,” Clark said. “It was a long time coming and having it canceled was pretty disappointing.”

Clark said that he agreed with the University decision, especially as cases continue to rise in California.

“I think they made the right decision, especially with the trajectory of our cases,

I don’t think it would have been possible,” Clark said.

Sean Silvia, a junior majoring in history and archaeology, planned on studying abroad for a year in Athens, Greece during the fall 2020 semester, but his program was cancelled twice due to COVID-19.

“Both my parents are professors and they have been telling me since I was very young to take advantage of study abroad… and it’s a shame that it’s been cancelled because I’ve been looking forward to this for many, many years, " Silvia said.

But Silvia also appreciated the early cancellation of the programs to allow students time to plan to take classes at USC next semester.

“I think that given all of the logistics and preparation that go into studying abroad I do think it was made at the right time,” Silvia said.