How the Pandemic Affected my Plans
Sydney Livingston is a 20-year-old Biology major at the University of Tampa. She had plans to do a study abroad in London this semester, but her plans had to change because of COVID-19.
Why did you apply for a study abroad?
I applied for a study abroad program because I love traveling and I’m graduating from UT early. My high school offered dual enrollment and AP courses and I graduated with 48 college credits, putting me a year and a half ahead. Most biology majors are never given the opportunity to study abroad because of the strict course schedules and course offerings each semester. It’s something that would’ve helped me stick out to admissions when I apply for medical school.
Why did you choose London?
I chose London because of the easy travel to other European countries and the university I would have been attending offered courses I was interested in. One of the courses I had planned on taking was Cancer Biology. When I was 11, my cousin and best friend passed away from Leukemia, and ever since then, I have wanted to become a pediatric oncologist.
How has corona affected your plans?
Initially, I was going to be studying abroad during the current fall semester. In early March, UT canceled all fall study abroad programs. I was able to change my semester with the SA company I was using and UT to Spring 2021. This meant I would graduate a semester “late”, in May 2022 instead of December 2021. While I was traveling back to Florida in August, I received an email stating that UT was canceling all spring study abroad programs as well. If I were to change my travel to fall of 2021, I would end up graduating in May 2023 due to when certain required biology classes are offered.
How do you think quarantine has affected you mentally?
I think that there were definitely moments of extreme anxiety in fear of the unknown, but overall my mental health was normal. I continued to go to work as a pharmacy technician in our local supermarket and kept up with all of my school work. I think that a lot of the reason my mental health remained good was accepting the fact that we do not know what’s next but that there are scientists who are trying to give us information to the best of their ability and help us through this.
If things clear up would you still choose to study abroad and why?
Like I mentioned before, I would love to still be able to study abroad, but with my current expected graduation date and how far back SA would put me if I went in the fall of 2021, it would not be financially worth it. UT is expensive and SA even more so, but I will be attending medical school and cannot afford the time setback or the financial outcome from extra time at UT plus a delayed medical school start.
How do you think the school is handling COVID?
I definitely think the school could be handling COVID better than they are. The housing addendum was absurd and that they should be doing random testing. Based on rumors from students who work in/for ResLife, there are more isolations and quarantines than they are telling us about. I personally am not comfortable with the self reporting results as I am sure many students are not telling the school if they test positive elsewhere so that they can continue to party. I also believe that they are not enforcing the room moratorium at all, and dislike how they will not test students unless they present symptoms- even if they have been exposed. That being said, I believe that the school providing some testing and enforcing masks is a good thing, although the masks could be enforced a little harder.
Interview has been edited for brevity, clarity and style.