Disrupted Sojourn and Forced Reentry: A Qualitative Inquiry of College Students’ Experiences, Stressors, and Coping Strategies After Returning Home During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Keywords:study abroad, reentry, COVID-19, coping, focus groups
This study explores the unique experience of disrupted sojourns and early reentry among U.S. college students who were abruptly repatriated from their study abroad experience in March 2020. Using a combination of focus groups and interviews with 25 U.S. returning students, the findings suggest that students’ experiences were characterized by themes of accelerated reentry and a deep grieving process, as well as numerous financial, academic, interpersonal, and COVID-19 related stressors. The findings also highlight returning students’ coping strategies of staying busy, seeking social support, and reframing the situation under a positive light. This research provides insights into the challenges and adjustments associated with a heretofore unstudied phenomenon of early reentry among returning students. Important practical implications for study abroad programs and administrators who might face additional cases of early reentry due to the uncertainty of the pandemic are discussed.
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