Students and the faculty family from Pepperdine’s Buenos Aires abroad program smile for a photograph.
Photos by Ashley Mowreader
Though the news was shocking, the announcement was not a surprise.
“In the beginning of the semester, I thought for sure we were going to get sent home,” said sophomore Bryce Crane. “But in seeing how Argentina’s coronavirus [cases weren’t] moving very fast, these last four or five days, I really came to terms with [the fact] that we were going to finish the year.”
The Buenos Aires international program (BA) is suspended as of March 10, and students studying abroad spring 2020 will be sent home starting March 14. The BA program is the last of Pepperdine’s International Programs to be sent home, with Shanghai the first in late January and Florence, Heidelberg and Lausanne in quick succession. London received notice as well on March 10.
“I did not see us not going to the EFT [Educational Field Trip] ever happening,” Crane said. “Or especially [the situation] happening the way it’s happening right now.”
Emotional reactions have varied between students.
“I feel very sad,” said junior Jacob Segoviano said. “I feel like I’ve lost a a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
Segoviano is one of the academic year students in the program and said he went abroad for the opportunity to travel. He’s not the only one.
“I’m just disappointed,” said sophomore Melinda Colbert. “The abroad program was a huge part of the reason I chose Pepperdine, and Argentina is a place I’ve been wanting to come to since I was 14, so it’s just really sad to have our time cut short.”
Spring students especially felt the time cut. The spring semester began Jan. 17, leaving them less than two months to experience living abroad in South America.
“I’m feeling upset because I don’t have time to do all of the things I wanted to do,” said sophomore Natasha Flaten. “I’m feeling stressed out about how to spend the last few days here.”
Other concerns were more physical, like finances and where return to in the United States. The spread of COVID-19 throughout the U.S. leaves many students worried about traveling home.
“I’m mostly just relieved,” said sophomore Annabel Marshall who said she felt stressed about flights and was worried about potentially going into quarantine.
For the few days, the Buenos Aires program will continue as normal — going to class and previously-scheduled events. On Friday, the students will attend an all day event at an estancia in the Buenos Aires province and have a final banquet with their homestay families.
Director Travis Hill-Weber encouraged students to continue to enjoy Buenos Aires and to make the most of the time they have left. Segoviano said the students have been doing just that.
“It was unique,” Segoviano said. “As soon as we had the bad news, instead of dwelling on the sadness, they made it something to celebrate the rest of the time together. Jumping in the pool, playing music, having fun. I think it best encapsulates the group. No matter what, we’re a family and we have fun.”
The students will leave Saturday, March 14 at the earliest and Monday, March 16 at the latest. Students will fly to their permanent home address to finish the rest of the semester through online courses.
In the meantime and in accordance with the program’s fun-filled mentality, other students approached the situation with humor. Junior Alina DeMeyer asked how much “chori,” a quintessential Buenos Aires food, she could fit in her suitcase.
For now, the students are enjoying the city, packing up and making plans for their time at home. Proposed plans include ski weekends, road trips, exploring the U.S. and visiting family
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