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Volcanic ash interrupts student travel

By Meaghan Whelan

Business students studying at Memorial’s Harlow campus had their travel plans waylaid thanks to the Eyjafjallajökull volcanic eruption. The 21 students were scheduled to fly back to St. John’s late last week when the European Union shut down airspace and grounded all flights.

Dr. Wilfred Zerbe, dean of the Faculty of Business Administration, said the top priority was ensuring the needs of the students were met. Accommodations and meal plans were continued at Harlow with no additional cost to students, and transportation to the airport was also covered.

“In a situation like this, we want to minimize the worry to students and parents,” he explained. “We’ve ensured that the students are in a safe and comfortable environment and staff in St. John’s and Harlow have done everything possible to support the students.”

Brittany Brinston, one of the bachelor of commerce (co-op) students spending the semester in Harlow, said the uncertainty about the situation was upsetting at first.

“We heard reports that the cloud could take only days to clear, while other reports said it could be months. It was hard not knowing what to expect, especially having already been away from home for four months,” she said. “But we are all very thankful that amidst all the other stresses of being stranded here, we had a comfortable place to wait out the situation and we are grateful to MUN for allowing us to remain on the Harlow campus until we are able to get a flight home.”

When flights resumed, the students came home on April 22, five days after their original departure date.

Katie Guiney, bachelor of commerce (co-op) student and house proctor at the Harlow campus, said she was happy to be back to Canada.

“I was a little disappointed not to go home on Saturday but we have all been trying to make the best of the situation. I think all of us feel very appreciative about how helpful MUN has been during this time.”

Most students took advantage of the extra time in the U.K. to experience more of London. Some went shopping, some took in a show or two, some even ventured as far as Cambridge to rent bicycles and go punting.