Franciscan University of Steubenville has made leaps and bounds to ensure that students are able attend classes on campus despite the pandemic. One of the obstacles that Franciscan has been able to overcome for its students has been planning its first summer study-abroad program at the university’s satellite campus in Gaming, Austria.
In a phone interview, Megan Boland, manager of Austrian enrollment, spoke on the struggles that the Austrian program has faced over the last year.
In addition to “many other minor struggles,” Boland said that there were two major issues: international travel restrictions and the Austrian Consulate closing due to the pandemic. Over the past two semesters, the program has been put on hold and students who have attempted to go to Austria have been re-situated on campus.
Boland said the Austrian Program is once again attempting to give the students at Franciscan the “Gaming experience” with a summer study abroad program. The Gaming experience is a one-of-a-kind exploration that feeds the soul, said Boland, and highly recommends all students attend during their time at Franciscan.
The study abroad program is an opportunity for students to deepen their faith through the exploration of an area with deep Catholic roots.
In Gaming, Franciscan has a campus that houses up to 200 students while they attend courses in the liberal arts. Since the summer semester will be shorter than the normal 16-week semester, student numbers and classes will be limited.
The new summer program offers two three-week-long “mini-mesters” with a week in between for sightseeing. Each “mini-mester” will offer one three-hour-credit course, equal to six total credit hours over the span of the summer and classes are already posted and available for students to choose.
Students will still be able to live in the Kartause, the 14th century monastery that was renovated in the 1980s for residential use, as in previous years. Jobs will be available to students through a program similar to SWOP to provide some income while on the trip, which students often use to fund personal travel.
The program is designed so that students can attend class in the mornings during the week but still have the evenings and weekends free, so as to provide time for exploration as well, Boland said. Additionally, the 10 days between the three-week semesters provide students with an optional school-sponsored trip to visit another country, such as Poland, for the duration of the week.
These trips are optional but many students find travel vital to the study abroad experience. A well-known quote of St. Augustine speaks to the topic: “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only but one page.”
Due to the continuation of the pandemic, new regulations will be put in place, said Boland. These regulations will be determined by the school’s layout as well as government mandates. The regulations currently include social distancing and the wearing of face masks, just like on the Steubenville campus, as well as self-monitoring and quarantine during times of sickness.
On the topic of cost, Boland said the summer program will cost “significantly less” than an average semester. More information can be obtained by contacting Boland in the Austrian program office in Starvaggi Hall.