Disrupted Sojourn and Forced Reentry: A Qualitative Inquiry of College Students’ Experiences, Stressors, and Coping Strategies After Returning Home During the COVID-19 Pandemic





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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Author Biographies

Alice Fanari, The University of Arizona

Alice Fanari is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Communication at the University of Arizona. Her interests include intercultural, interpersonal, and positive communication that facilitates cross-cultural interactions.

Chris Segrin, The University of Arizona

Chris Segrin is Department Head and Steve and Nancy Lynn Professor of Communication in the Department of Communication at the University of Arizona. His research interests are in interpersonal communication and mental health.


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How to Cite

Fanari, A., & Segrin, C. (2023). Disrupted Sojourn and Forced Reentry: A Qualitative Inquiry of College Students’ Experiences, Stressors, and Coping Strategies After Returning Home During the COVID-19 Pandemic. Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad, 35(1), 249–274. https://doi.org/10.36366/frontiers.v35i1.712



Learning from COVID-19