Despite the surging COVID-19 pandemic, more than 60 Miami University students are currently studying abroad at the university’s satellite campus in Luxembourg through the Miami University John E. Dolibois European Center (MUDEC).
Ryan Dye, Miami’s director of education abroad, said MUDEC is the only Miami-sponsored study abroad program currently operating. The only other options for studying abroad this semester were virtual programs or third-party programs.
The MUDEC campus is owned and operated by Miami. Dye said the university decided to go forward with the program because they have more control over safety precautions there than on non-Miami campuses.
“We know that it’s absolutely key during a pandemic to be able to control the space for social distancing, to provide the necessary sanitizers and to do the necessary cleaning on a daily basis to run the program,” Dye said, “and we felt confident we could do that.”
Most U.S. citizens aren’t allowed to travel to Luxembourg right now due to the high number of COVID cases here, but Dye said Miami students were able to get in due to the university’s good relationship with the Luxembourgish government.
Junior political science and professional writing major Megan Fogarty, who is currently in Luxembourg, said the COVID restrictions there are similar to those in the U.S., but they are followed much more closely.
“Europe just takes COVID way more seriously than the U.S. does,” Fogarty said. “[Europeans] take the number of people in a store at once very seriously, and you don’t ever see someone not wearing a mask.”
MUDEC participants usually visit other European countries frequently due to Luxembourg’s central location on the continent. This year, though, travel is more difficult due to the countries’ varying COVID restrictions.
Hannah Sroka, a junior creative writing and professional writing double major who is also in Luxembourg, said some students have started to travel a bit more in recent weeks. She and a few friends visited Germany two weeks ago, and last weekend, they traveled to Switzerland.
“The first weekend, a lot of people stayed in Luxembourg, mostly because they encouraged us to do that, but people are slowly branching out,” Sroka said. “We're going places but being careful about it and not going very far yet.”
Sroka said she’s enjoying her experience abroad so far, but it's a bit different from what she expected.
“There’s not a lot of things open – I’ll go to Luxembourg City, and there’s nowhere to sit down inside [restaurants], and it’s cold outside,” Sroka said. “There’s definitely things to do, but I think it’s a lot less than people were expecting.”
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Fogarty, on the other hand, said she expected the limitations and has tried to make the most of her experience anyway.
“I knew going into it that it was not going to be what I expected, so I set my expectations pretty low and felt like if I got to do anything, I’d be happy,” Fogarty said. “Keeping a positive attitude has been helpful because once you get negative and say ‘this is not what I expected,’ then you’re not going to have fun.”