A Qualitative Look at the Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on American College Students Studying Abroad


  • Eric Pedersen University of Southern California
  • Reagan Fitzke
  • Kathryn Bouskill
  • Angeles Sedano




mental health, COVID-19, behavioral health, stress, college students


COVID-19 has impacted higher education greatly, with many colleges and universities being forced to quickly implement procedures for operation as closures and restrictions shifted many programs online. These abrupt changes amounted to uncertainty and challenges for students worldwide. Students who were studying abroad during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic faced unique challenges as programs shut down and many returned home from overseas. The current study investigated the impact of COVID-19 on U.S. study abroad students through a qualitative lens. Students reported unique stressors related to being abroad during the onset of the pandemic, such as missed experiences, financial loss, travel difficulties, and stressors related to academic programs. Additionally, many reported considerable and lasting impacts on emotional and behavioral health. This study provides preliminary evidence for the effects of COVID-19 on study abroad students, and highlights the importance of addressing the needs of this population during and after the pandemic.


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How to Cite

Pedersen, E., Fitzke, R., Bouskill, K., & Sedano, A. (2021). A Qualitative Look at the Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on American College Students Studying Abroad. Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad, 33(3), 70–100. https://doi.org/10.36366/frontiers.v33i3.602



Learning from COVID-19