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Marquette student's study abroad program cut short due to coronavirus concerns

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- The spread of coronavirus has disrupted the semesters of students in study abroad programs.

Jake LaFleur, a junior at Marquette, spent seven weeks in Florence before abruptly returning home last week.

He was studying through a program with Gonzaga University, and he says he received an email that said the academic institution had closed.

The next day, he was on a flight home.

"I never really got that full sense of closure,” LaFleur said. “Leaving behind so many people I'd met from friends to professors to even losing a sense of myself too that I was starting to really find there."

Since LaFleur got back, more than 2,500 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in Italy.

Twenty-two Marquette students, including LaFleur, have had their programs canceled. Seventeen others have been instructed or recommended to come home.

Marquette said in an email to CBS 58 that it’s following guidance from the Milwaukee Health Department, and it’s doing its best to support each student.

LaFleur praised the school for how staff has helped him readjust to life here. He says he’ll take classes online to get his credits this semester.

Travel agencies are taking a hit too because of coronavirus.

Rose Gray, the business relationship director at Fox World Travel, says customers have canceled trips to Europe.

She works with clients on what’s appropriate for them. It depends on a traveler’s risk tolerance and if they’re ok with a different kind of vacation.

"If they wanted to go [to Italy] next month, we probably would discourage that and not so much because we're worried about the virus itself but the experience they would have,” Gray said. “Many things are going to be closed."

Gray added that for travelers with higher risk tolerance, there are deals available to travel to certain destinations cheaply..


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