The past few weeks have been absolutely insane with the pandemic outbreak of COVID-19; throughout this time, my trip to Italy for spring break was cancelled, everyone has been watching the case numbers rise from country to country and state to state, Chapman University main campus has been shut down and converted to online classes, and I absolutely with all my heart do NOT want to leave London. It has become a second home to me, and each day of exploring that passes I feel a stronger connection to this city, a place where I will very likely live in the future. While many students here have been worried about staying, I have been worried about leaving.
Last night after our Dialects class, everyone was waiting in anticipation for an email from Chapman determining whether or not we would remain in London or be shipped off to the States six weeks early, barely past the halfway point of the program we’ve all been waiting for for three years. At 6:30pm,we got the email: our program will be shifting to online courses starting on Monday, and any student wishing to leave London and return home may do so. Those that wish to stay will be allowed to remain in the dorms for the remainder of the program, with full administrators and staff continuing as planned, as long as we sign a waiver saying we take full responsibility for ourselves (so Chapman doesn’t get sued by angry parents). Classes will be re-evaluated in two weeks and in-person classes might resume.
Of the 13 of us Chapman folk, 2 of us are staying. Needless to say, this is breaking all of our hearts. Last night a bunch of us piled into a hotel room with wine and cheesecake, surrounded by bags and bags of already-packed luggage, laughing, talking and crying over the situation and how we hate having to leave each other so abruptly. Each person’s decision is personal and we all have very different reasons as to why we are staying or leaving, especially with all of our families involved. Following President Trump’s speech Wednesday night (I was up at 1:00am here watching it) where he announced the closure of boarders to European travelers (except for the UK), most people feel that the UK is next and they would rather be potentially quarantined in the States with their families than here in London. I completely respect all of their decisions, I’m just sad to loose them all, never mind the fact that I’ll be the only one left in Flat 5, originally a full house with 9 of us.
I have decided to stay for many reasons. To start, Chapman did not order us to return home. They gave us the OPTION because it is still only a level 2 travel advisory here in the UK. I have been hoping and stressing for weeks over being to stay here, so I am extremely lucky to have been given the choice and I commend my University and FSU for their decision. I trust that they will figure out what will be done about my classes, but as of right now it looks like I will not be getting my Stage Combat certification because I won’t have the in-person hours completed, and it’s impossible to take an acting class (High Comedy) online, so that leaves London Theatre Tour (which we need to see shows for in order to discuss them) and Dialects. Dialects is pretty much the only class that is feasible online. So, I really don’t know what will happen, but luckily the theatre department is a team of very creative people. My Grandma Kathy just arrived last night for her 10-day stay with me here in London, so I am absolutely not alone. I am here with her and safe, so if anything progresses negatively I can leave with her immediately. As of right now, I plan to stay for the next six weeks. If I did fly back to LAX, there is a very good chance I would be bussed to a hotel for a 2-week quarantine. My physical therapist here is healing me, so by remaining I am doing the best I can for my physical health, and I have the support of family and my program right next door.
My decision could change at any time as the coronavirus outbreak progresses, but I will keep everyone informed. Everything is okay, I’m okay, and I will text and call anyone that wants to talk to me directly. I love you all, please don’t worry!