Day 9: LIVE from Italy – Reconnecting with Students & Travel
Travel with Scott Tayloe, Chief Strategy Officer, CIS Abroad, as he travels to welcome our students to Italy, January 12th – 22nd, 2022.
The Same Life-Changing Experiences; Just Different.
Over the past 18 months I’ve repeatedly been asked by students and parents “When will study abroad reopen?” To be honest we technically never closed.
While yes, the recall of Spring 2020 did in fact happen our industry immediately got to work quickly sending students back overseas. It wasn’t when will students go abroad again, it was how do we safely do study abroad. While the CDC has put many countries into the “Do Not Travel” category, this refers solely to the everyday traveler. Students on study abroad programs are not considered everyday travelers. We have on-site testing, quarantine protocols, student support teams, housing oversight, and the list goes on.
With the level of health and safety and risk managers in place, our industry was fully prepared to do what it needed to ensure students could safely return abroad. We regrouped, created new policies for a safe return to travel, and by the end of summer 2020 students were taking to the skies again. Of course students weren’t studying abroad in record numbers, but they were traveling.
Not Impossible, Just Different
Although it was now day 9 in my journey, today marked day 1 in our Florence students’ new life abroad. Florence was calling and off we went to show our students their new home. Right away, it was clear that the new policies we had created were in full force, not just internally as an organization but locally as a city. Crowds were smaller. Police were out enforcing. Our group of 60+ had to be split into three. That meant three walking tours, three welcome lunches and three orientations. Not impossible, just different.
All events indoors and out were to be done masked. And let’s be real, I talk loud already so muffling my voice with a mask has my husband rejoicing anyways. Orientations were all the normal slides mixed with some new ones, all around when testing is required, how quarantines would be managed, and when remote learning would be triggered. Again not impossible, just different.
As we walked around the city, two guys in our group quickly began to recognize the attire of the guys their age passing by. “Mr. Scott, where can we find scarves?” At first I didn’t respond. Who is this Mr. Scott they speak of? I thought because the travel industry had halted so had my age. Sadly, not true. I turned 40 this year. I told them where the good markets were to grab scarves and started to ask them what else they noticed. As we continued on the tour it was fascinating to see what they noticed. Moms taking kids to school on bicycles. Young professionals, even in cold weather, taking their lunch outdoors. People standing at cafe counters to drink their coffee, or espresso as I corrected them.
It then occurred to me. I too used to always notice the attire of the crowds whenever I would travel abroad. It almost felt like I was living in the movie Devil Wears Prada getting a sneak peek at the latest trends that would soon hit America. There were the tapered sweatpants one year, Doc Martens rebirth another year, and the skinny jeans came along when I simply couldn’t bear to get rid of my bootcuts. Europe made me see the light that year. But now what about the last two years? I’ve been working from home and as we saw in my first blog I clearly have not been traveling as my shameful Delta status showed. Egads! What fashion trends have I missed whilst not traveling?
It was then they noticed one more thing that seemed to fascinate them. “Mr. Scott, why are all of the statues naked?” I wanted to say that they hadn’t traveled that year and thus were between fashion trends. “Renaissance art commonly centered around the human body and in turn nature. Artists of the time saw nudity as a more realistic representation”, I said. However, all I could think was poor David, it must’ve been cold that day.