Elon Study Abroad plans for Brexit impacts
By: Kailey Tracy
Senior Noah Ganz stayed up until 1 a.m. to hear the news. United Kingdom, a country he spent four months in studying abroad last fall, was no longer part of the European Union.
“The vast majority of eligible voters cannot fathom the consequences of exiting the European Union,” Ganz said. “This should be a decision for highly qualified members of the government who have the financial, trade and security information at hand.”
On Thursday, United Kingdom citizens voted 52-48 percent to leave the European Union. In the aftermath of the most historical days in British politics since World War II, Prime Minister David Cameron said he will resign, and that a new leader will be in office by October.
The referendum’s impacts aren’t just being felt in the UK, but around the world, including here at Elon within the study abroad department.
According to Rhonda Waller, director of Study Abroad, “there’s no doubt that [Brexit] will have an impact [on study abroad].”
But Waller said the Global Education Center expects all programs to move forward as planned at this time.
“Our students are very mobile once they’re abroad, so we do expect that there might be some changes to the way that our students move around,” she said. “We’ll try to keep on top of that, and try to keep them informed of anything they need to know to make prudent decisions while they’re traveling.”
Senior Katie Klochany was one of those students who traveled a lot during her time abroad in London last fall semester. According to Klochany, she believes that as Brexit becomes official, “cultures that make London, London, will slowly disappear.”
“It upsets me greatly because one of the most influential parts of my experience abroad was living in a melting pot of different cultures,” Klochany said.
Ryan Kirk, assistant professor of geography and adviser for the London program that Klochany was part of, said the decrease in the value of the British pound will make it easier for students who plan to study in the UK this upcoming semester.
“An Elon student who went to London this week would pay 10 to 15 percent less than those there last spring with the currency devaluation,” Kirk said. “That is a benefit for Elon students until markets settle.”
The results of the referendum came as a shock to much of the world, Kirk included.
“The general impression of every UK citizen that I talked to while there was that they would vote to remain in the EU,” he said.
Junior Anna Paluzzi is one of these students who will potentially be affected by the fluctuating currency in the UK, as she will travel to London this fall. According to Paluzzi, she is looking forward to living in the UK on the heels of the history-making vote.
“I am so excited to be able to experience the aftermath firsthand, and speak to both advocates and critics of the departure from the EU,” Paluzzi said.
While Paluzzi waits to hear UK citizens’ opinions firsthand, it’s Italy and France who want their opinions heard regarding whether or not to stay in the EU now too.
Waller said the Global Education Center is ready for obstacles that may result from the UK’s secession, including other countries wishing to leave the EU too.