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The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

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The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

Trip abroad brings both life changing memories & challenges.

Leah Dautoff
The study abroad program took a walking tour of the Roman Forum ruins in Rome, Italy on Wednesday, Feb. 16. The students took a break at an overlook showcasing the ruins that were once home to ancient Roman governments.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the idea of traveling abroad had been nothing but a dream. 

One of the many reasons why I chose to attend City College is because of the first rate travel abroad program

I knew going into college that I wanted to live abroad, and when the pandemic hit I was crushed. My dreams of travel were postponed indefinitely.

In November of 2021, the United States lifted the pandemic travel ban that had been in effect for over a year and a half. 

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Shortly after, the study abroad program at City College began sending out information about their Rome Spring Program

Traveling has always been a passion of mine. I strive to have a job where I can work abroad and spend my life constantly meeting new people and experiencing new cultures. 

I have never had the opportunity to travel to Europe and when I heard about the program I immediately applied. I knew it was something I wanted to be a part of, despite the challenges and risks. 

On Monday, Jan. 31, I departed for Rome for three months. The flight was almost 14 hours and the mixture of adrenaline and anxiety made it nearly impossible to gain the rest I desperately needed. 

The first night in Rome was a blur of new faces, cobblestone roads, and the stench of cigarette smoke mixing with rain. It was a surreal experience and I find that the whole trip still feels like a fever dream. 

When I imagined my first opportunity to live abroad, I assumed the biggest challenges would be the cultural difference, the language barrier, or homesickness. However, the biggest challenge I faced was dealing with COVID-19 while in a foreign place. 

While the program attempted to create regulations that would help us stay safe, many of the rules created more problems than they solved. 

When someone got sick, the program required students to take a covid test and pay $100 to see a doctor to avoid an unexcused absence. More than two unexcused absences could risk someone’s spot on the program.

Most students had been saving up for months or up to a year to afford the program. They did not have extra money lying around to pay for a doctor whenever they were sick.

This resulted in students attending class while they were sick to avoid unexcused absences when they couldn’t afford a doctor’s visit. 

This caused a cycle of students that would come to school sick, infecting everybody else, and then those who were infected would also come to school sick and the cycle would start over.

At one point in the program, almost half of the kids tested positive for COVID-19. 

While the students knew the risk when they decided to attend this program, no one had anticipated that our health would be handled so poorly. 

Despite the challenges, studying abroad was one of the best decisions I ever made. It allowed me the opportunity to travel to seven different countries, gaining memories and friendships that I know I will cherish forever.

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