Flu forces U of I to consider canceling study abroad program - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Flu forces U of I to consider canceling study abroad program

by Bryan Goettel

IOWA CITY (KWWL) - The U of I has an eight week course in Mexico that's supposed to begin in just over a month. It's made up of students from several schools including around 20 from Iowa. And then there's several other Iowa students enrolled in programs through other universities. But right now they're all waiting and wondering.

For University of Iowa student Liz Smoczynski, it's a chance of lifetime.

"I've been looking forward to this for a very long time, very excited to go study abroad," said U of I junior Liz Smoczynski.

But now those plans are in limbo because of the outbreak of the H1N1 flu.

"It's pretty nerve-racking waiting day-to-day, checking my e-mail, seeing if there's any new updates," said Smoczynski.

"It's hard to pin down the moment when you need to make those decisions because we don't know what the situation is going to be like tomorrow or four days from now," said U of I Study Abroad Director Janis Perkins.

Perkins is monitoring the situation closely.

"We feel like we have to make a decision early enough that students will be able to make other plans for the summer," said Perkins.

Four of the five Iowa students currently studying in Mexico are coming home. That's because Mexican universities have suspended classes until at least May 6th.

If the June program is canceled, Perkins is hopeful students can be transferred to another one. But Liz Smoczynski is still holding out hope.

"I really, really want this trip so that it can push me over the edge with my language, with experiencing a new culture, with all those great opportunities that many people brag about when studying abroad," said Smoczynski.

Perkins says the school hopes to have a decision made on the program by the end of this week or early next week. Smoczynski is actually part of a different program so she will be getting word on her summer plans from the University Studies Abroad Consortium.

Online Reporter: Bryan Goettel

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