While students on the Hilltop have observed the aftermath of the volcanic eruption in Iceland last week from a safe distance, many of those studying abroad in Europe have found themselves in a travel bind, with the consequences reaching far beyond continental flight cancellations.

Jeff Morshed (SFS ’11), who is studying at King’s College in London this semester, was grounded in Madrid for several days this past week. Morshed was also forced to reschedule his plans to visit Scotland, but noted that other students had it worse.

“The average citizen wouldn’t really know anything is happening unless he or she decides to go to the airport. I do have many friends stuck in Rome, Malta, Berlin and Paris – some with lodging and food, [and] others without. Some also have papers due next week and left their laptops in their dorms. It hasn’t affected me academically, but I know a girl who has four papers to write in less than a week but doesn’t know when she can book her next flight. She’s without a laptop, too,” Morshed said in an e-mail.

Lucy Obus (COL ’11), who is also studying at King’s College in London this semester, considers herself lucky, despite having been stuck in Rome for more than two extra days while she has three major papers to write.

“[The professors have] actually been pretty nice about the situation. Both of the departments I’m taking classes in [have e-mailed] students and [said] if they are stuck abroad due to the volcano, they can e-mail the essays in and then submit [a] hardcopy when they get back, or if they are having lots of trouble, they can apply for extensions, but you have to keep your boarding passes as proof of [being stranded],” Obus said in an e-mail.

The Eyjafjallajökull volcano erupted on April 14, and its ashes, carried across Europe by unpredictable weather patterns, began interrupting air travel a day later. Thousands of planes remained grounded at European airports this week due to the clouds of ash that have drifted south from Iceland. Over a thousand homes had to be evacuated in Iceland, and the ash plume has drawn more attention in recent days not only because of delayed air travel, but because of heightened concern over the potential health hazards ashen air may pose.

Jacqueline Vicino (COL ’11), who is studying in Krakow, Poland, this spring, has not been directly affected by the volcanic ash but saw its effect on the country’s morale, already low after the death of the Polish president and his wife, top military leaders, ministers and several members of parliament in a plane crash on April 10.

“By far the biggest way that the volcanic eruption has affected life in Poland is that it forced many world leaders to cancel their plans to attend the funeral for President Kaczynski and his wife, which was held last Sunday in Krakow, where I am studying,” Vicino said in an e-mail. “I was among the crowds of mourners watching the funeral procession on Sunday afternoon,and not having Obama, Sarkozy, Berlusconi and other world leaders at the funeral was disappointing but forgivable,”she said.

The Office of International Programs did not respond to a request for comment.

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