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In a Bit of a Quandary About Summer Travel for Festivals--Coronavirus

AsMotherAsMother 329 replies20 threads Member
As I mentioned here earlier, my son was accepted to participate in a summer festival program for composers in Vienna in June. We've both been really excited about his going, and we bought the plane ticket a couple of weeks ago. He was given a partial scholarship, but the whole thing will still cost a chunk o' change.
(He's also applied to another program that will take place in Milan later in the summer--he would love to do that too, but that will also be expensive and we don't know yet if he's been accepted.)
But now I'm wondering if either adventure can/should happen, or if they might cancel. I do find it a little spooky that the programs are both in areas where, at this point, things seem to be the worst in Europe with regard to the Coronavirus!
I've asked him to contact the Vienna program to find out if they have some idea how they're going to handle this if things don't start improving very quickly (that prospect is not looking too good at the moment). I've already sent them a deposit, and the next payment installment is in two weeks.
I REALLY want him to be able to do this, but even if the festival is not cancelled I'm not keen on the idea of his getting on two international flights to get there. I also don't want to send them money and then find out that it can't be reimbursed.
The problem is that the festival organizers don't have a working crystal ball either, and this is a very unusual situation.
Does anyone else have kids who are planning to travel internationally this summer for any music events (or anything else)? Any advice on how to proceed?
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Replies to: In a Bit of a Quandary About Summer Travel for Festivals--Coronavirus

  • MomOfSingersMomOfSingers 116 replies9 threads Junior Member
    This may not help you, but our neighbors just cancelled a March ski trip to Italy because the organizers and ski resort had closed due to cornavirus fears. Hard to say where things will be in a few months (as you mentioned)..

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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 9246 replies93 threads Senior Member
    Purdue just cancelled all their study abroad trips, and are pulling student home, for any country that the CDC has labeled risk 2 or 3. That includes Italy. The email warns that other countries may be added to the list.

    You may want to read through the thread on the parent cafe "coronavirus and study abroad."
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  • KnowsstuffKnowsstuff 6211 replies26 threads Senior Member
    Wow.. Really.?? Good to know. So glad my kid did his last year since he was going to put it off.

    My daughter is a semifinalist for the Critical language learning program through the state department for Indonesia. She did the program 2 years ago. The state department hasn't said anything yet about this summer program. But we already told my daughter if this thing is not better by May then she is not going.

    Thanks for the heads up and will look for that thread @momofsenior1
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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 9246 replies93 threads Senior Member
    @knowstuff - Right now the countries on the list are China, India, South Korea (level 3) and Italy, Japan, and Iran (level 2). https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices

    I'm also super happy my D went abroad last year!

    And to clarify, Purdue is only cancelling trips to those level 2 and 3 countries....for now.
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  • MusicaspirantMusicaspirant 40 replies2 threads Junior Member
    edited February 27
    Day by day.... (Not that this is an answer for you.)

    One of my step-kids was accepted to the Pacific Music Festival in Japan the year of the tsunami and subsequent Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. The Festival went ahead, but they had many who declined the acceptance offers. Again - this doesn't help you out, but I can honestly say "I understand the dilemma." (Ours had other festival options and PMF is a fellowship free program so no money issues to further distort decisions.)

    Closer to your situation - I have no current plans to cancel a business/pleasure trip to the UK in May. Their situation re COVID-19 is similar to the US at the moment and I am not overly concerned about the flight. This is me - not my kid - but I would feel the same way about sending offspring or Hubby.

    I monitor the world situation daily as we have "concerns" in Asia. Many we know are teaching via Skype with schools - music, academic, enrichment - all closed. So far, no one in our network of colleagues and friends has become ill. If necessary, I personally would fly out to the areas of Asia we are connected with (not China), but there is no compelling reason so I see any such trips as only adding a burden to stretched resources.

    It is hard to know what to do about deposits and payments. I tend to be optimistic. Personally, with current info and status, I'd pay the rest of the Vienna program fee on the due date giving time for last minute developments. But, that's me......... (I also "self-insure" my foreign trips. If I can't make the UK trip, I will be out my airfare but I always know to accept that risk.)

    edited February 27
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  • AsMotherAsMother 329 replies20 threads Member
    Thanks for your replies, everyone! It is just frustrating that the course of this thing is so unpredictable. But I really hope that my son doesn't lose this opportunity--it's a dream come true for him (as was his Berklee composition class in Greece last summer...like others here, I'm glad he at least got to do something awesome then!).
    I will see what the program's response to my son's query about it is. As long as they are willing to refund any payments if the program is cancelled or if the area is deemed too risky closer to June, I guess we'll just assume he's going. I'd cut off my own arm to keep him safe (as I know everyone here would for their kids!), but on the other hand the world is so nuts right now that one can find reasons not to go anywhere. I don't want him to live like that, either...sigh.
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  • bridgenailbridgenail 1176 replies6 threads Senior Member
    edited February 27
    Yes, this is very frustrating. I'm sorry for you and your son.

    We have a trip planned to Japan (level 2) in late May. We are "in a holding pattern" right now. We've decided not to make a decision at this time as it is out of our control. However we know there is a chance we will not go. The only bright note for us is that it is simply to see family and can be re-scheduled. It's not a "study abroad". So I'm very sorry for your stress on this. As they say, when one door closes, another opens. If canceled, I will hope that this is the case for your son.
    edited February 27
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  • AsMotherAsMother 329 replies20 threads Member
    @bridgenail , you're like the Buddha of CC--you always have wisdom to share! :) I hope you get to go to Japan (it's one place I've never visited, even though I used to be a travel writer, and I would love to go myself!).
    But we have DEFINITELY learned the "one door" lesson several times over the last few years. If one is patient and thoughtful about how to proceed, things have a way of working out--sometimes in even better ways than what was originally planned! In the meantime, however...aaarrrgghh! Uncertainty is never easy to handle.
    I really would prefer to know that the money would not be lost, though, because it could definitely be used for what might be on the other sides of those other doors. I'm assuming that the festival organizers are tied in knots over this as well--it's not within their control, and I'm wondering if faculty and/or other participants will start cancelling.
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  • TiggerDadTiggerDad 2091 replies74 threads Senior Member
    Our booked trip to South Korea scheduled in early April has to be, at this point, aborted. We didn't purchase a travel insurance, so we won't be able to get any of our money back.

    My son, a sophomore in college, was granted a pre-med related summer internship in Uganda for this year. Covid-19 has already spread to African countries, but it's my understanding that its spread has been more in cooler climate regions. We're keeping a close watch in this area for now.

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  • GalaOvsiGalaOvsi 9 replies0 threads New Member
    My daughter signed up for the vocal summer program in Tuscany, Italy. Fortunately, we just gave €50 deposit and did not purchase plane tickets yet. We will be watching the situation.
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  • AsMotherAsMother 329 replies20 threads Member
    @TiggerDad , I'm so sorry that you had to cancel your trip (with no refund!). I called the airline with which we made my son's flight reservations today to see what his options are with that should the festival be cancelled. It seems that I wasn't envisioning a possible pandemic when I made the reservation for some reason :) , and so bought a less-expensive (but still expensive!) ticket with no refund option. But he CAN reschedule for a later date (for a $300 fee!). That's good, because one way or another I know that my travelin' man of a son would love to go and see Vienna anyway, when it's a better time.
    And congratulations on your son's internship--I hope that he is able to go! Is it something that could be cancelled or possibly completed at a later date if necessary?
    @GalaOvsi , I also hope that your daughter gets to go to Tuscany--what a wonderful place that would be to study voice! I'm wondering about the deposit--ours, paid already, was $500. It seems that if the program were to be cancelled they SHOULD refund that; I hope that they will see it that way too!
    I just totally freaked myself out by reading an article in the Times about the Spanish flu...
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  • TiggerDadTiggerDad 2091 replies74 threads Senior Member
    AsMother wrote: »
    And congratulations on your son's internship--I hope that he is able to go! Is it something that could be cancelled or possibly completed at a later date if necessary?

    His school is very good at monitoring for any dangerous developments (political, health-related such as the current situation and whatnot), so they'd cancel if necessary. Should such developments take place while students are already in other countries participating in whatever their programs, they'd even send a private plane to get them home to safety if evacuation by commercial airplane isn't possible.

    He's currently waiting for the results from another internship application. This one's at Washington D.C. If this one gets granted, and the situations in Uganda is forecast to be bad, then hopefully he'd be able to exchange the internship programs. He and I both prefer the internship in Uganda, so we're crossing fingers.
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  • TigerleTigerle 531 replies5 threads Member
    It’s in JUNE. Who knows what will happen until June? I can assure you the organisers won’t know either. It is completely impossible to know at this point which parts of the world will be safer than others, epidemiologically speaking. As you know, divination is a very imprecise brand of magic.
    I am currently skiing in Italy, hoping to be able to travel home on the weekend. Now I hear there may be a chain of infections in our hometown. I’m just taking it day by day at this point. We haven’t made plans for our summer vacation yet - if we had, I’d go forward with it, but as we haven’t, I’m in no hurry to make choices right now.
    I’d go ahead and hope for the best. And if things get much worse, whether a music festival goes ahead or not may seem a small thing in comparison.
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  • AsMotherAsMother 329 replies20 threads Member
    @Tigerle yes--that's the problem--the utter uncertainty. But June is actually not that far away, especially when one is trying to plan for something important (and I agree that the festival itself is low on the ladder when compared to other concerns, although it would be an awesome thing for him to do, and a way to get another live recording of one of his original works into his portfolio). We're definitely hoping for the best, but trying to plan for the worst in multiple ways.
    This evening I called the organization that plans the festival, as well as others in other countries. The man I spoke to (I believe that he was the one who interviewed my son) was very understanding and helpful. He said that--as one would expect--they're kind of scrambling now to figure out how to proceed, but that he's hoping that an email with useful information will go out within a week or so. I feel for them--something like this must make their heads spin!
    He did say that any tuition payments made would be refunded if the festival IS cancelled, with the caveat that they're not quite sure how to get out of the housing arrangements they've made already. I'd really prefer not to lose any money that could be used for other opportunities for my son to participate in such things, but I'll wait and see what the email says. Berklee is expensive enough without sending out relatively large sums of money for something that may or may not happen!
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  • fivethirtyfivefivethirtyfive 44 replies12 threads Junior Member
    We are in a similar situation with two summer trips for one of my kids. Of COURSE this would be the summer that he gets to take two trips-of-a-lifetime and was accepted into a super-difficult-to-get-in-to program! :/ Now I'm trying to adopt a "what will be, will be" mindset. But, ARGH!

    And, of course, in the grand scheme of things, a missed trip is nothing compared to the agony of those affected by this disease already. It's mind-boggling to see something of this magnitude spreading so quickly and I hope and pray (for a whole host of reasons) that these first medicines they are testing are effective and fast-acting. What a nightmare. :(
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  • AsMotherAsMother 329 replies20 threads Member
    @fivethirtyfive , of course you're right. It's really hard to see our kids disappointed, especially when it feels as if things are finally beginning to take off for them. But those who have gotten sick, and those who have died or lost their loved ones (it sounds like a pretty awful way to go) have much more to mourn (and I don't like the common bromide that it's only the people who are older or who have immune system issues who will be seriously affected--no one should be discounted like that!). And we all mistrust each other so much these days that communication and the ability to convey empathy have become extraordinarily difficult. It's hard to know whose information to trust (and even those who should have the most accurate understanding of epidemics like this really can't say with any certainty what may or may not happen).
    Who knows? It may all just fizzle out in the next few months, or it may not. Maybe it's a veiled opportunity, as a truly global issue, to find some common ground across borders. Not to bring politics into this, but I do wish that someone with a background in epidemiology or some relevant professional experience were "in charge" of managing this here. But I don't want to get dinged by the moderator here :) .
    I guess all that we can do is to do our best to be as supportive as we can to our children as they learn to bounce back from uncertainty and disappointments, and to anyone else who may be affected (that may be a lot of support we'll need to need to come up with!).
    I do hope that your son does get to do the trips--I'm just learning how important such things are in the lives of young people who have chosen music (or whom music has chosen) as the basis for their lives and livelihoods. I will always believe that it's one of the most important tools we have at our disposal to dissolve barriers and bring joy and beauty to people, regardless of the genre.
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  • compmomcompmom 11343 replies80 threads Senior Member
    I wonder if travel insurance will honor the virus and refund your plane tickets.

    Young people apparently, for the most part, are not getting seriously ill with this virus. But I guess noone knows how the virus might develop.

    I thought there was a lot of mass hysteria going on but read this morning that Harvard, Northeastern and many many colleges are altering their summer programs and some schools are considering or planning for a switch to online classes.

    @AsMother this won't be detrimental to your son's career and he will get another chance. And it may still run. Noone knows what is going to happen.


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  • LindagafLindagaf 10174 replies565 threads Senior Member
    edited February 28
    It’s isn’t likely that this virus will still be an issue by summer. My daughter will be in Japan and I am not worried about it.
    edited February 28
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  • KnowsstuffKnowsstuff 6211 replies26 threads Senior Member
    @Lindagaf. Let me know if that happens with your daughter in reality. My daughter graduates this May and wants to go to Japan for some time before starting her "real" life and getting a job etc. Hopefully the situation will be better. Just read that Israel already has a version of a vaccine but they need to alter it a bit and should be ready in a few weeks but then it needs 3 months of regulatory testing to be released. They are working with the powers to be to get it fast tracked.....
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  • AsMotherAsMother 329 replies20 threads Member
    @compmom , yes, I believe that a lot of colleges are shutting down their study abroad programs for now, bringing students home, and/or holding courses online. I spoke to someone in the Study Abroad department at Berklee yesterday and it sounds as if they're considering their options about that as well.
    I'm not all that worried about my son getting sick, as he's young and pretty healthy. But I'd certainly prefer he avoid being ill whenever possible, and quarantine would be a major drag!
    @Lindagaf , I wish the rest of the world had your certainty--it would definitely make planning things a lot easier, and less stressful for those whose health would be at more serious risk! But oooohhh...Japan. I would love to go too. I hope your daughter has a wonderful time, and @Knowsstuff , I hope yours gets to go as well.
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