Troy University study abroad programs threatened by coronavirus


TROY, Ala. (WDHN) — Troy University’s study abroad program is being affected by the coronavirus.

Multiple trips were canceled due to outbreaks in foreign countries while Troy officials work to ensure their students’ safety.

“For us the utmost concern is the safety and welfare of our students, our faculty, and our staff,” Troy University Senior Vice Chancellor Lance Tatum said. “If the area is dangerous or there’s a threat level for students who travel in that part of the world, then we’re advising the students not to go.”

The program provides students course credits for their trips, but with so many trip cancellations, the university is trying to figure out how students will receive credits.

There is also the issue of students already paying for the trips.

“I have to consider alternate plans as well,” Troy University Assistant Spanish Professor Johanna Alberich said. “So I got to consider for example refundable plane tickets and travel insurance, and what is gonna happen. Have a backup plan, figure out what will happen just in case.”

While some planned trips aren’t in affected countries, however, the route to some countries may make stops in areas that have been affected.

This brings new challenges.

“I have heard of another trip, for example, the possibility of changing out cities because certain cities have been affected, but you can’t really do that now,” Alberich said. “If we leave in May, there’s no need to make changes now. You never know what it’s gonna look like in May, but we are ready to make changes and of course, protect our students.”

Known as “Alabama’s international university,” Troy prides itself on its international studies and programs.

It also has around 400 Chinese students enrolled, and the university has 900 international students in total.

While the student body has been supportive of foreign students, there has also been some curiosity that’s led to some interesting questions.

“I have one classmate in my writing classes and she told me, ‘do really Chinese people eat the bat?’ And I told her it’s maybe a part of just a small group, and we don’t eat that,” student Yhan Gao said.

Also, while Troy deals with potential challenges for its students that are heading abroad, another matter to contend with may be its sites on military bases.

Troy maintains two sites in Japan and three in South Korea, both countries heavily impacted by the coronavirus.

Japan moved to close all schools today as the number of cases steadily rises. Meanwhile, South Korea has seen a sharp increase in infection cases with the number of cases reaching around 1,700.

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