As tensions continue in Spain over the Catalan independence movement, the 37 UNC students studying abroad in the country are still safe and benefiting from their time abroad.
Barcelona and Catalonia have seen outbreaks of violence recently as a result of Catalonia's recent independence referendum. UNC partners with IES Abroad, a third-party-run study abroad program with a site in Barcelona. Nine UNC students currently participate in the program which exists specifically to create study abroad experiences for American students.
“No one has reported wanting to come back to the United States,” said Bob Miles, associate dean for study abroad and international exchanges. “Usually in a situation like this, IES sends us updates about what is going on in the area and the circumstances of the students.”
Miles said the Study Abroad Office’s response to conflict in regions where students are studying depends largely on the situation.
Unless the U.S. Department of State advises United States citizens not to travel to a certain country, Miles said the office will not consider pulling students out of a program. No such statement has been issued regarding Catalonia.
Miles said the Study Abroad Office relies on communication with students in cases of conflict abroad.
“Our primary concern is to get them to tell us that they’re safe,” he said.
Students are encouraged to contact their parents, UNC and local resources if they require assistance of any kind.
Olivia O'Malley, a UNC junior studying abroad in Barcelona, said her international university classes have been canceled four times because student protests shut down the university or because of safety warnings.