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Coronavirus Sends Students Studying Abroad Back to the States


Studying abroad can be considered a once in a lifetime opportunity for many college students. For those studying in Italy, this could be the only time in their lives that they get to eat a real bowl of spaghetti while looking out the window at a cathedral from the 1200’s, so you could only imagine how discouraging it must’ve been for them when their journey was cut in half due to the worldwide pandemic, Coronavirus.

Back in February, before Covid-19 became the horror that it is now, Long Island University’s students studying abroad in Florence, Italy were told that students from the Chinese program would be joining them in their classes due to a program shutdown because of the virus. Alyssa Juris, a junior at LIU Brooklyn who was studying in Italy at the time, said that, “no one was scared… no one ever thought it would come to us, let alone, kick us out too!”

A week later, when at an airport on their way to Poland, their temperatures were taken before being allowed to board the flight. Juris described this as thinking “they were being dramatic” at the time, not knowing how much the situation was going to escalate in the weeks to come.

Two weeks later, the students were in Venice for Italy’s Carnevale celebration, where Juris claimed that “everything seemed normal”. That is, until she started to notice posters written in Italian that said, “Chinese Coronavirus outbreak in Italy”. Then, when they went to the Carnevale festival, many of the people in the festival were wearing both their decorative masquerade masks along with medical masks over their mouths.

The next day, they were evacuated from the island and Venice got shut down because the first case was found there and it came back positive. Juris said, “Monday we saw everyone freaking out leaving Venice as we took the train back to Florence. Still everything went back to normal, but we all had a bad feeling.”

It seems that their instincts were correct because only three days later, the dean told them that they all had just three days to find flights and get back home.

That wasn’t the end of the chaos for the studying abroad students though. Once back in the United States, quarantine was inevitable for all of those coming across international borders. Juris said that,” the worst part for quarantine at the time and now is that we are already two weeks ahead of everyone else.”

These students are now taking online Zoom classes, like the rest of LIU, but with all of their classes being Italian based, Juris said she “lacks motivation to learn Italian while sitting in her bed in Missouri”.

These students were deprived of several weeks of learning the culture of another country and experiencing all of the benefits of studying in a foreign country. Juris said, “For me and a lot of the other transfers, we are bummed because this was our one semester of opportunity to live abroad and discover the Italian lifestyle.”

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