WALTHAM (CBS) — Norimar Gayoso, a junior at Bentley University, returned home to Puerto Rico two months into her semester abroad in Florence. She is one of hundreds of college students who have been forced to leave Italy early, one of the countries where the COVID 19 virus has spread in recent weeks. 

Out of caution, Bentley has asked all students studying abroad in Italy to return to their hometowns. 

Gayoso said she feels great and is happy to be home.  “That safety you feel when your parents hug you,” she said, “the tears, I couldn’t hold them in once I saw them again.” 

Most frightening about the experience, for Gayoso and her classmates, was the uncertainty of not knowing who may have the coronavirus.

“You might be standing next to someone who was right  in the heart of Milan where the disease was very present. Not knowing is what made it tens times as scary,” she said. 

 She and her classmates took preventative measures, including wearing masks and using hand sanitizer, and avoided visiting crowded areas. 

Gayoso said she was pleased to see how Bentley handled the tough situation well. 

“They had a lot of support for us. They were on the phone all the time for us. They would email us on a weekly basis,” she said. “They were there just to show us they were our main support.”

 Gayoso returned home Sunday and will continue to monitor her health over the next few weeks. Those who studied abroad will finish the semester by way of an online course.

Paul Burton

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