Unfolding of COVID-19 Crisis in a Study-Abroad Program: Voices of Stakeholders Involved in the Evacuation


  • Aurore Mroz The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Tricia Thrasher The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign




Crisis management, Case study, COVID-19, France, Double-abroad students


This qualitative case study documented the unfolding of the COVID-19 crisis that impacted a study-abroad program in Paris between December 2019 and May 2020, culminating in the urgent evacuation of U.S.-affiliated students from France. Framed by Complex Dynamic Systems Theory, chaos theory, and research on study abroad and crisis management, rich data from extensive interviews conducted with nine undergraduate students in the program and the four educational staff members responsible for them were triangulated with external correspondence (e.g., official university emails), local media sources, and governmental documents (e.g., White House statements). This merging allowed reconstructing the context necessary to capture the singular voices of these stakeholders, as they experienced threat, uncertainty, and urgency, filtered by the use of a foreign language and varying intercultural skills during the different phases of the crisis. Recommendations for the management of crises abroad and the future of study abroad are discussed.


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Author Biographies

Aurore Mroz, The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Aurore P. Mroz is an Assistant Professor of French at The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. With a concentration in second language acquisition, teacher education (SLATE), she specializes in mixed methods studies related to Computer-Assisted Language Learning. Her award-winning research project on the impact of smartphone use on the development of proficiency and intercultural competence in study abroad students led her to document the unfolding of the Covid-19 crisis that affected her research participants.

Tricia Thrasher, The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Tricia Thrasher obtained her PhD from the department of French and Italian at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is currently the Research Manager at Immerse, a VR language learning company, and conducts research on Computer-Assisted Language Learning.


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How to Cite

Mroz, A., & Thrasher, T. (2022). Unfolding of COVID-19 Crisis in a Study-Abroad Program: Voices of Stakeholders Involved in the Evacuation. Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad, 34(2), 27–55. https://doi.org/10.36366/frontiers.v34i2.568



Learning from COVID-19