The future of study abroad seems bright

On Apr. 28, Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Mario T. Gaboury sent out an email to freshmen, sophomores and juniors saying that the Prato, Italy campus will be reopening for the fall 2021 semester.

The announcement said that all students will begin classes online from their homes and leave for Italy in early September for approximately 85-89 days, meaning students will not need to apply for an Italian Visa. Students would return a few weeks before the semester ends to complete the rest of the semester online.

Kevin Murphy, dean of the Prato campus, said, “I think we are seeing great improvements. We’ve seen massive improvements in the rhythm and volume of the vaccination.”

The University of New Haven described this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of studying abroad, saying, “The historic city of Prato offers University of New Haven students an authentic Italian cultural experience.”

The deadline to apply is May 15 and all those interested are asked to complete an interest form. All students who would like to study abroad this fall must be fully vaccinated from COVID-19. The program is looking to have a minimum of 40-50 students, in hopes of giving the experience to as many students as possible.

“We are aiming optimistically at reopening in fall 2021,” said Murphy. “The more students the better.”

Director of international programs Elena Quarti said that the application process is similar to previous years, where students will still need to take courses to keep themselves on track along with obtaining a passport. While studying abroad, students will be able to take up to two online courses at the main campus in New Haven and three in Prato.

“We want students to acknowledge the risks because when you travel abroad during this time,” said Quarti, “they should understand that depending on the situation- – masking wearing, social distancing, certain travel restrictions — that we will try to educate students and talk to them about all of these possibilities of what might happen.”

In reflection on having to send students back to the U.S. last March, Murphy said, “I remember when I was talking to the students, I will never forget the day I brought the students together in the classroom and told them that they had to leave. I will never forget that moment. It was very hard not to cry, I was heartbroken. It was one of the worst meetings I have ever had with students.”

Junior criminal justice major Andrew Prendergast studied abroad at the Prato campus during the Spring 2020 semester and would love to go again. Prendergast said that his experience in Italy, although cut short, allowed him to become more “confident, independent, and resourceful.”

Murphy emphasized the importance of studying abroad by saying that although students were sent home last spring, it was still a valuable experience. While studying abroad, some students were completing internships, teaching English to Italian students and volunteering.

“They were learning a lot, they were making friends, they were having extraordinary experiences,” Murphy said. “They were also having a lot of fun. But they were also getting a great education.”

“I think studying abroad is just a beneficial experience in general,” Prendergast said, “It challenges you in ways you never thought would be a challenge. Just trying to order food at a restaurant can be an ordeal.”

Zoom sessions are being hosted on May 3-7 to give students more information on the fall semester. If students are interested in attending, they should fill out this form.

Students are encouraged to register to apply for study abroad as soon as possible and to express interest to [email protected].