Assisting students returning home

As COVID-19 began to spread throughout the world, UC Santa Cruz Study Abroad monitored its impact on students abroad, looking to the U.S. Department of State and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for information.

In partnership with UCEAP, Study Abroad worked to ensure students experienced a safe and timely departure from their host countries and reentry to the United States. This included individual assistance with academic options, campus housing, spring remote learning, and quarantine requirements.

The Study Abroad team quickly adopted a remote advising schedule, which provided student assistance and improved reaction to daily updates surrounding the coronavirus outbreak.

Students typically come to a study abroad experience with a year’s worth of careful preparation, including the application process, academic planning, budgeting, language courses, and prerequisites. In the wake of program cancelations, some study abroad students are grieving the loss of a milestone moment that was expected to impact them academically, professionally, and personally. Some of these students are finding it difficult to process these feelings, reconcile the loss, and determine how to move forward.

“I think one of the biggest challenges students face right now is grief. They had a challenging experience, only to return home to be isolated due to remote learning,” said Emma May, Assistant Director of Study Abroad.

Study Abroad continues to look for ways to be supportive, including a partnership with Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS) to create a series of workshops focused on coping with the effect of COVID-19 on study abroad programs. Students will have an opportunity to reflect on their experiences and connect with other students.

“Reflecting on experiences is important and we want students to know that they are not alone. This is really important to us,” May said.

While it is uncertain when the coronavirus outbreak will subside, Study Abroad is eager to return to normal programming after travel restrictions are lifted. Study Abroad and campus partners continue to work on building programs and student support services to ensure students have options for integrating a global experience into their undergraduate degree.

According to May, “Students eager to pursue study abroad should continue to move forward with planning for the future. We encourage students to discuss their goals, options, and concerns with us. However, students should be mindful of the uncertainty of the current situation, and be prepared to exercise flexibility when considering the timing for their program. Our team continues to  pivot our operations and programs as the COVID-19 situation remains ever-changing.”

Study Abroad thanks UC Santa Cruz colleges, departments, Financial Aid, Student Health Center, Office of the Registrar, CAPS, and other units who have supported students through, often sudden, study abroad program cancellations and suspensions.

If you have any suggestions for additional ways to support students, know of someone who needs support, or have any questions about Study Abroad, please contact

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