COVID-19 disrupts study abroad plans 


Sofia Pye '21

Universities across the United States have canceled their study abroad programs due to the coronavirus.

The spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) has forced students studying abroad to return home or refrain from travel.  Study abroad programs around the world are questioning when they will resume their courses.  Sacred Heart Greenwich alumna Ms. Ellen Pucel ’17 returned home from Denmark, where she was studying abroad, and current Sacred Heart senior Clementine Marcogliese, who will be attending Southern Methodist University (SMU), has canceled her application to study abroad for the upcoming fall semester.

Ms. Pucel, a junior at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, had been studying abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark for two months before the University asked students to depart due to COVID-19.  The University of Wisconsin-Madison suspended all in-person classes for two weeks and urged students to start booking flights out of the country immediately.

The University of Wisconsin Madison has a campus located in Copenhagen, Denmark.  Courtesy of

“Traveling home during this pandemic was pretty wild.  It was worse where I was then in New York when I left Europe so everyone in the airport was wearing masks, gloves, and keeping distance from one another,” Ms. Pucel said.  “I landed the day before the borders in the United States essentially closed so the airports were extremely busy and full with people trying to get home.  I luckily landed safely and in good health.  After I landed, I was in a strict 14-day quarantine to make sure I did not get anyone else in my family sick.”

The University of Wisconsin-Madison suspended all university-sponsored trips as the virus continued to spread.  The university asked students who have been traveling outside of Madison to closely self-monitor for coronavirus symptoms for 14 days, according to

“Although the semester was cut short, I was able to create such amazing memories and connections with people from all over the world,” Ms. Pucel said.  “I am still in touch with my professors and peers I worked with in Copenhagen.  It is hard to imagine that I still would have been in Europe longer than I was but it just means I have more of a reason to return someday.”

Many North Texas universities, along with SMU, have temporarily canceled all study abroad programs.  Clementine initially was going to travel to Europe to study fashion media in partnership with Franklin University Switzerland through SMU’s Switzerland International Semester (SIS) program.  The SIS program is a semester-long program following a student’s high school graduation.  After fulfilling SMU admissions requirements, students may enter the university for their spring semester, according to

Clementine Marcogliese ’20 will be studying at Southern Methodist University.  Sofia Pye ’21

Due to the coronavirus, all SMU students are to refrain from travel and SIS students received an extended deposit deadline.  SMU announced February 28 that there will be a suspension on all university-related travel until further notice.  SMU has alerted students of their cancelations because of travel ban restrictions in European countries, according to

Southern Methodist University has encouraged students to still take part in study abroad programs,” Clementine said.  “Franklin University has made arrangements to benefit students who may be uncomfortable with traveling and need more time to think about the opportunity.  One example is the extension of the deposit deadline.”

Due to the many unknown factors for all fall study abroad students, Clementine has withdrawn her SIS application to Lugano, Switzerland, and is looking at universities both in Texas and locally in New York where she can take classes in August. 

“As of right now, I do not know what I will be doing in the fall,” Clementine said.  “It is still unknown whether I will be at college in the fall.  As of right now, my plan is to have an open mind and look into universities both in Texas and locally that I can take classes in August.”

Featured Image By Sofia Pye ’21