CAPA London alum Mikayla Habina takes us through the moment she found out how the global pandemic would change her entire study abroad semester in 2020. Did the pandemic make her study abroad experience any worse or less impactful? Read on to see her take on the entire situation and how it molded her.
Hello! My name is Mikayla Habina. I am now a senior at Lake Erie College in a little town called Painesville, Ohio. I study Fine Arts and English. Through CAPA, I studied abroad in London in the spring semester of 2020. You might be thinking, “Um, how did you do that?” Yes, the pandemic did affect my semester abroad, as I’m sure it affected everyone’s semesters at home, too. I was expecting to be home at the end of April—I came home in the middle of March. I’ve had a lot of people ask me if COVID-19 has dampened my experience at all, and I must say, I don’t think so at all.
I think that if you’re choosing to study abroad, CAPA is a great organization to study abroad with. Of course, at the start, no one knew what was going to happen, but eventually, CAPA made sure that everyone was safe, and that classes and internships were going to be finished off for the semester. Everyone at the CAPA London Center was extremely supportive of us students through that time.
The night we found out that we would be going home early was one I surely will never forget. It was our midterm celebration dinner that CAPA was throwing for their students. I remember I was already overwhelmed with homework, but the global crisis at hand was throwing my anxiety for a loop too. The room was filled with this thick sense that something was going to happen. At the end of the dinner, it was finally announced that we were all going to go home in the next week. I remember my friends crying, I ran out of the room to call my mom and my supervisor at home, and I finally sat back down to realize what was happening.
I remember the sinking feeling, but also a deep sense of relief because I was really scared about this new thing called “the coronavirus.” Back in January of 2020, I remember arriving in London, reading of the novel coronavirus in China, and thinking, “Oh, that’s sad. I hope it gets better soon.” I never once thought that it would spread into a worldwide pandemic like it has, and would still be affecting our daily lives over a year and a half later.
However, I still haven’t answered that question—has the pandemic made my study abroad experience any worse? Any less impactful? Any less wonderful? And the answer to that is a simple no. While my time was definitely cut short in my beloved London, I do know that I will go back one day for my Master’s degree in Art Restoration. If I had never studied abroad, I never would have known that I wanted to do that in the future. I never would have met my best friends that I still talk to today: Emily, Craig, Becca, and Sami. I never would have made such fun memories with them, like going to Spoons on the weekends, having a Harry Potter marathon, running through different streets or tube stations to find our ways home, and constantly laughing together.
I also learned that I am insanely independent, intelligent, artistic, funny, kind, and a good friend. I learned so much about myself from my friends, my experiences, and the city itself, all in just two short months. My life changed forever because I made a decision to change it. And through CAPA, they were able to give me the tools to help shape me into the person I wanted to become.
Mikayla Habina is a Lake Erie College student who studied abroad in London in the spring of 2020. She is now a CAPA study abroad ambassador.