Butler students studying in Italy encouraged to leave as coronavirus spreads

Butler students studying in Italy told to return to US amid coronavirus deaths

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Butler students studying abroad have been encouraged to evacuate Italy due to the spread of coronavirus.

Butler University informed students through an email Saturday that it will no longer support travel to Italy after the Centers for Disease Control added the country to the list of those to avoid for nonessential travel. Students in China received similar news in January and were actually moved to join those already in Rome.

The two Butler students are currently abroad through a program with the Institute for Study Abroad (IFSA), which is separate from Butler University. The students participating in the program in China were also studying with IFSA and were not Butler students.

The study abroad experience will be cut short for these students. They were urged to return to Indiana, but News 8 connected with two students over FaceTime who chose to stay in Europe for the time being.

“It was obviously very shocking and disappointing. I had no idea this was going to happen. I was very optimistic that everything that would be OK,” Butler University student Catie Conlon said.

Butler students studying in Italy told to return to US as coronavirus spreads

“I think we’re all feeling a little bit of frustration. This is happening so quickly and that given the circumstances, this is how we’re having to deal with our study abroad experience,” Ana Segovia, another study abroad student, said.

Both Conlon and Segovia are juniors at Butler University studying in Rome.

“Here there are definitely … there are people who are a little more scared than others, but overall I would say the atmosphere is very calm,” Segovia said.

The students have been ordered to leave Italy by this Wednesday, but they’re both choosing to travel to other places in Europe, instead of returning to Indiana.

“It’s been a whirlwind of a 48 hours. I just got back to Rome this morning, so I’ve been booking flights left and right trying to get out of here,” Conlon said. “If I were to go back to Butler at this point, I wouldn’t even be allowed on campus for 14 days even though I don’t have any symptoms of coronavirus.”

According to the email from Butler that Conlon and Segovia received Saturday, any student returning from Italy must stay off campus for two weeks. So the students say they will continue courses online abroad.

“It’s just a lot of adapting and adjusting at this point and trusting that this is what’s right. It’s kind of hard to see at this point, but I know in the end it’s probably the right decision,” Conlon said.

And while this is a disappointing turn for their study abroad experience, the two students said they feel good about their decision to stay.

“I wouldn’t say I would feel safer in Indiana. I feel just as safe here. I would be just a little sad to go back to Indiana, but I feel safe here,” Segovia said.

The email Butler students received Saturday says at this point spring break and summer study abroad programs are scheduled to move forward, but the university will continue to monitor the situation in relation to coronavirus.