As the novel COVID -19 continues to spread across the globe, more and more people continue to feel the effects of it, including Lipscomb’s global learning students.

Students studying in Florence were moved to Vienna back on February 28th as a precautionary measure since Italy was one of the places under high watch by the CDC.

“None of us suspected it to take this huge of a turn for the worst,” said Lipscomb Sophomore Nina Santiago who was studying abroad in Florence.

On Friday, students who were studying abroad in Vienna flew back home to the states, their trip being cut nearly in half.

President Randy Lowry sent an email to the students abroad and their families that said the following.

“This has been a very eventful semester and we are so proud of all of our students for their resiliency and grace in handling all of the changes and uncertainty we have faced over the last few weeks due to the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19). As you know, the Lipscomb leadership team has been monitoring the COVID-19 situation in Europe on a daily basis. Whether our students are studying on our campus or in locations thousands of miles away from Nashville, our goal of keeping our students safe and secure remains a primary focus.”

The students. were taken back by the message but not too surprised.

“When we all got the message, we all gasped and started to get really emotional. It’s definitely devastating, but I’m not surprised. I figured it’d probably be coming soon with everything going on, I just didn’t expect it now,” says Rachel Pavelich, a Vienna student.

John Tomlinson, another student in Vienna also noted that he was “shocked but not surprised.”

The students, who were mostly traveling London and Ireland when they were alerted of the news of being sent home, said that they didn’t receive many warnings at all.

“We found out on Wednesday, we flew back to Vienna on Thursday and picked up the house, and then we left on Friday morning,” said Tomlinson. “I just broke down right there when we found out. It was so sad. I didn’t even want to think about leaving. It’s just heartbreaking.”

The group of students made it back to the US right before the travel ban was put in place Friday at midnight, which many people say is causing delays.

The students, since returning, have been strongly advised to self-quarantine themselves for two weeks to prevent any potential spread of the virus.

As expected, most of the students wish they could have gotten more out of the trip.

“There was a couple things where you just say, ‘I wish I could’ve done that,’ but part of me also has to tell myself that if I want to do those things so badly, I’ll go back,” said Tomlinson.

While spirits are low, some students are trying to stay positive and cherish the experiences they were able to have while in Europe.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that, first things first, that the $3,800 we paid extra this semester, you could never ever get the seven and a half weeks that we did, ever, with that amount of money. So because of that, I try to stay optimistic,” said Tomlinson.

Tomlinson quoted his former baseball coach by saying, “‘Worry about what you can control.’ I can’t control the coronavirus outbreak, I can’t control coming back home. But what I can control is my attitude, and trying to just be understanding of my grief and my emotions.”

Many of the students also understand the reasoning behind leaving.

“It’s definitely sad, but I appreciate Lipscomb trying to keep us safe,” said Pavelich.

Despite their trip being cut short, students are thankful for their time abroad.

“Students everywhere should study abroad,” said Tomlinson. “Students all over should see culture, and go through culture shock, because without it, there’s so much of a piece of character and respect of other cultures to understand another person’s living.”

The group in Vienna had also been joined by the Florence students a few weeks back due to the outbreak in Italy. Both groups of students are now safely back in the US.

Students will be continuing their classes online from their homes for the remainder of the semester, and most likely will not be returning to campus.


Additional quotes attributed to Kathryn Farris and Mckenzi Harris.

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