It has been a dream of mine to study and live abroad, so sophomore year I applied to a bunch of abroad opportunities: a week-long ICA in Greece, a 5-week summer creative writing workshop in Ireland, and seriously considered an international co-op in Zimbabwe.
Within the first three weeks of March of 2020, all three were canceled.
I was determined to study abroad this summer, so I rolled with the punches as my creative writing workshop was deferred and then canceled; when the Dublin half of the Dublin and London program I transferred into got canceled; and anxiously waited to get approval to book flights for the 10-week London program a month before our departure date.
So, after a year and a half, I finally got my study abroad adventure, no thanks to COVID-19.
FIE (the Foundation for International Education), the program that I am participating in in London, told us that we needed to arrive on the 17th of June, come directly from the airport in a taxi, and quarantine for 10 days on our assigned floors at Metrogate house. There was lots to be done to prepare, and it was incredibly stressful to figure out travel arrangements during COVID, which were only exacerbated because prep overlapped with finals week.
To enter the country and quarantine, everyone needed to arrange: 1) to get vaccinated, 2) a negative PCR covid test taken three days before your departure date, 3) to order two more COVID tests to be taken on days 2 and 8 of quarantine, 4) a student immigration letter, 5) cell phone and bank plans in place, 6) a passenger locator indicating where you were quarantining upon arrival, 7) register with the COVID-tracking NHS app, 8) order enough groceries to get you through the 10-day quarantine, and of course, 9) to pack for two and a half months.
I arrived at Newark airport about three hours before my flight to be in fear of delays due to COVID-19. Check-in was fairly quick, however, I did have to dole out an extra $200 to check my over 50-pound suitcase. I had been in contact with some of the other Drexel students enrolled in the program, and two other students were taking the same flight. We met up at the gate and boarded together. I was so grateful to have travel buddies.
We arrived at Heathrow airport at 7 a.m., and after an hour-and-15 long taxi ride through morning rush hour, I arrived at Metrogate and checked into my room.
I was spoiled with a lovely little room, with a private bathroom and a great view of Queen’s Gate Terrace. My quarantine groceries were organized in the personal fridge in each of our rooms.
Luckily, we are allowed to interact with the other students on the floor, a mix of Drexel, University of Florida and Elon students, during our quarantine period. We share two kitchens as a floor, and there is a lounge that was converted from a bedroom.
A Message from the Office of Global Engagement:
The safety and security of Drexel students is a priority for the University. As part of the efforts to support Drexel students that are studying abroad during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Office of Global Engagement has conducted a rigorous review of programming and provided additional support to participating students with customized pre-departure orientations and regular check-ins during the required self-isolation period and the term.