‘It was so sad’: How coronavirus pandemic impacts students studying abroad

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“The whole reason why I went to MSU was solely based on the Korean program.” 

Yvonne Phillips felt lucky.

She was one of four students accepted to a study abroad program in South Korea. She planned to finish her undergraduate minor in Korean. 

Phillips couldn’t take enough pictures or videos during her first week in Korea. She figured it was going to be a great 4 months.

And then…

“It was so sad,” said Phillips.

It all ended.

One week into a dream study abroad, and as the coronavirus spread in South Korea, MSU decided to end the program.

Phillips said, “M.S.U. just said that we had to leave A-S-A-P.”

Then phillips flew back to Detroit. 

She said, “I cried like while the plane was taking off… when we landed and they were like welcome to Detroit and I was like, ‘I don’t want to be here.’”

Phillips says she felt safer in Korea.

“Before we walked into any kind of store, they would test our temperature and they would like if our temperature was too high, they’d kick us out and they would always be sanitizing everything,” she said. “There would be little sanitizing booths everywhere. ”

And back in the United States…

Phillips said, “Nobody screened us. Nobody checked our temperatures. Nobody asked us like how we were feeling or where we were even coming from.”

It can take up to 14 days for symptoms to appear so she was told to self quarantine for two weeks. 

That’s why we talked to each other like this.

“Today is your last day?” I asked. 

“Yes! Today’s my last day,” She replied. “I’m going to go to the movies!”

And she’s symptom free. 

At Michigan State, all face to face classes are cancelled and the graduation ceremony is postponed. 

Phillips hopes to go back to Korea next year. 

As for this year, she might just feel lucky that she had at least a week there.