Studying abroad is the goal for many students as they enter Seton Hall. Yet, many students’ dreams were put on hold for a few days over spring break due to inclement weather. The nor’easter left roads very slippery and with high wind, snow, sleet and some hail. It was deemed unsafe for students to travel and a number of flights were canceled.
Fredrika Etienne, a senior English major, traveled to London with members of the English department and through the EF College Tour program. Due to the weather conditions, the airport and airlines she was originally going to take changed. Originally, the group was supposed to fly out of Newark Liberty International Airport, but they ended up switching to JFK airport in New York City. This caused a set of changes.
In order to get to Newark Airport, students were told to find their own transportation in order to make it to the flight on time. EF Tours rented a coach bus for students to take to the airport, because of the distance from SHU. Etienne added that information about the changes to the itinerary were communicated “by the professors through email and texts.”
The English department did not travel alone to London. The theatre department was also slated to leave for the United Kingdom. Many students attending the trip from this department are not from New Jersey and because of these changes had to be given emergency break housing in order to remain in their dorms during the transition period.
Elizabeth Boucher, a junior theatre and English double major, said that some of the theatre department had applied for break housing prior to knowing about the storm since the students would have returned two days before spring break ended.
As this was happening to the English and theatre study abroad programs, Taylor Cain, a senior diplomacy major, found out her trip to El Salvador with DOVE was stalled.
The trip included 35 students who would be split between two cities, Santa Tecla and San Miguel, to complete different areas of service in various work sites.
According to Cain, “We were pulling up to Newark airport when we found out our flight was canceled, so we turned around and waited in Campus Ministry on campus while the DOVE coordinators spent three/four hours on the phone with United Airlines.”
The flight situation ended up becoming more skewed because, instead of taking one direct flight from Newark to El Salvador with all 35 of the SHU students on Friday night, United Airlines put them on two different planes. Ten students, including Cain, took a direct flight on Saturday night and the other 25 took a delayed flight late Friday night to Houston and stayed with a church group there overnight due to the 20 hour layover. They then flew from Houston to El Salvador.
According to Rebecca Stokem, a senior English major, the trip to London ended up getting extended due to the rescheduling of events by EF Tours and they did not receive any money back.
Cain said that the El Salvador trip did not get extended, nor did they receive any money back.
“We had to cut our Saturday plans out of the itinerary which was unfortunate because Saturday we were supposed to learn about the Salvadoran civil war by visiting El Mozote, the site of a massacre where more than one thousand Salvadorans (a large amount of which were kids were killed during the civil war,)” Cain added.
Even with all of these alterations in plans, Stokem, Cain, Etienne and Boucher all shared the same sentiment: the trips were still fun, educational and worthwhile experiences overall.
Claudia Emanuele can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.