The Eve of the Storm


  • Kayli Elaine Burnside Drake University
  • Cristina Wildermuth Drake University
  • Marguerite Wildermuth Drake University



study abroad, culture shock, problem-focused coping, higher education


In the first week of March 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic spread worldwide, fourteen American travelers spent a week in Morocco. The researchers analyzed electronic correspondence, journals, recorded discussions among program participants, and interviews. The data suggest that (a) participants experienced culture shock very early in the trip, (b) travel disruptions (especially luggage loss) affected program participants more than COVID, (c) the program leaders concentrated on problems they felt they could solve, (d) exhaustion and stress were prevalent themes for the program leaders, and (e) the program leaders experienced doubt and confusion while helping program participants. We recommend that study abroad officials reexamine faculty and students' preparation and emergency procedures and avoid over-relying on third-party providers. We conclude that during a crisis, problem-focused coping can be a stress-reducing mechanism for study abroad program participants.


Abstract in Spanish

En la primera semana de marzo de 2020, cuando la pandemia de COVID-19 se extendió por todo el mundo, catorce viajeros estadounidenses pasaron una semana en Marruecos. Los investigadores analizaron la correspondencia electrónica, los diarios, las conversaciones grabadas entre los participantes del programa y las entrevistas. Los datos sugieren que (a) los participantes experimentaron un choque cultural muy temprano en el viaje, (b) las interrupciones del viaje (especialmente la pérdida de equipaje) afectaron a los participantes del programa más que el COVID, (c) los líderes del programa se concentraron en los problemas que sintieron que podían resolver, (d) el agotamiento y el estrés fueron temas predominantes para los líderes del programa, y ​​(e) los líderes del programa experimentaron dudas y confusión mientras ayudaban a los participantes del programa. Recomendamos que los funcionarios de estudios en el extranjero vuelvan a examinar la preparación de profesores y estudiantes y los procedimientos de emergencia y eviten depender demasiado de proveedores externos. Concluimos que durante una crisis, el afrontamiento centrado en el problema puede ser un mecanismo para reducir el estrés para los participantes del programa de estudios en el extranjero.


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Author Biographies

Kayli Elaine Burnside, Drake University

Kayli Elaine Burnside received her B.A. in Business Administration and Financial Services at AIB College of Business and her MS in Leadership Development and Higher Education from Drake University. She is currently a doctoral candidate in the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) program at Drake University. Her research interests focus on study abroad and intercultural development in higher education.

Cristina Wildermuth, Drake University

Dr. Cris Wildermuth is an Associate Professor of Education and Director of Barry University’s Bachelor’s of Science in Organizational Leadership. Originally from Brazil, Dr. Wildermuth has traveled extensively, facilitating leadership development programs in Europe and Latin America. She has also led various travel seminars in Brazil, Spain, and Morocco. Dr. Wildermuth is the author of the book Diversity Training, published by the Association for Talent Development, and has published in various academic journals.

Marguerite Wildermuth, Drake University

Marguerite "Maggie" Wildermuth started her PhD in Clinical Psychology at Gallaudet University in Washington DC in the fall of 2021. She has a BS in Psychology and a Minor in Neuroscience. Having grown up in a bicultural family, Maggie is fascinated by intercultural relations and passionate about her chosen specialty: She hopes to become a clinical psychologist specializing in deaf and hard hearing clients.


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How to Cite

Burnside, K. E., Wildermuth, C., & Wildermuth, M. (2022). The Eve of the Storm. Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad, 34(2), 183–204.



Research Articles