Distance may be one of the most challenging obstacles to overcome while abroad. It is not easy, but it becomes increasingly difficult when there is a tragedy back home like Hurricane Sandy. Currently Lantern Point is destroyed, New Jersey is floating somewhere out in the Atlantic, New York City is the new Venice and all of us are stranded in Europe feeling helpless and disconnected.

Although being abroad has its many advantages, one of the downfalls is the difficulty of staying up-to- date on what is happening at home. Ted de Nicola, a junior at DePauw University studying in Rome, was unaware of the severity of the storm until 1 a.m. Tuesday morning when the ‘superstorm’ struck.

“We turned on the TV in the lounge and saw the hurricane hitting. I immediately called my mom,” said de Nicola, “I saw Manhattan getting drenched, a crane hanging by a thread and the death toll was at six people. My first thoughts were my big sister, who just moved into Manhattan.”

Because of massive power outages, many students have had trouble contacting family and friends. Information is limited to us abroad, leaving many worried and uneasy. Those who are fortunate enough to have family with power, or able to reach power outlets, have been able to communicate via email, video chat, or social networks. Some have not been able to reach their families, leaving them very much in the dark about the situations of their hometowns.

“I’m just worried considering I’ve barely talked to my parents and my cousin is actually in a hospital on LI cause she just had a baby,” said Maria Manis ’14 who is currently studying in London, England.

The storm was so damaging it has left many students in disbelief. Despite the hundreds of Facebook statuses, Twitter updates, and pictures uploaded, many students are still having a hard time grasping what has just happened to the East Coast.

“I just can’t process it,” said Craig Hawkins, a junior at Boston College studying in Florence. Hawkins’ family owns a house in Point Pleasant, N.J. and described a horrifying scene of houses in his beach neighborhood being entirely swept to sea. He described, “The bay and the ocean converging,” and many of the local businesses having burned down during the storm. Hawkins closed by saying, “I’ve seen the videos and the pictures, I’ve spoken to people, but it hasn’t really hit me and I know it won’t until I’m back home.”

Others have had the damages hit home thousands of miles away. This disaster has stressed many and left others in a whirlwind of emotions. Some students feel helpless and even remorseful about how far they are away from their loved ones.

“It’s almost like I feel guilty, being here in Italy, enjoying Florence and only worrying about how cold its going to be each day while everyone is back home in the states with windows boarded up, no power, flooded basements and streets,” said Kelsey Dumond ’14.

For those of us who have been fortunate enough to experience a semester abroad, we have also been presented with this harsh burden of the reality that is this natural disaster.

Although we are trying to enjoy our time here, the general consensus of the students abroad is that although we cannot be home with you helping assess the physical and emotional damage, our thoughts and hopes are still with you.

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