BISMARCK — Sam Clark was having the time of her life. The 21-year-old University of North Dakota student had spent the last three months studying abroad in Barcelona and elsewhere in Europe.
But then came the warnings and the orders to return home to the United States. Coronavirus was hitting Europe hard.
“It was just really scary for me because I was alone and I didn't know what was going to happen and didn't know how I was going to get home,” Clark said.
She was able to catch one of the last flights out of Spain before the country was placed on lockdown. Once in Paris, France, Sam caught a break and got a flight to the U.S. shortly before France shut down as well.
“We were freaking out hoping it would not get canceled ... (when) we got on the plane and into the air, there was finally relief and we were actually on our way back," Clark said. "I was shaky and nervous because I wasn't sure what would happen once we were in the U.S".
Sam got to Minneapolis and then made a stop in Fargo where she was able to see her father. The closest they could get to hugging was in gesture.
“It was weird to stay back from him and not be able to hug him, and my mom and sister could not get close to him," she explained. "We just wanted to be safe.”
Now, back home in Bismarck, Clark, her mom and twin sister await news on her coronavirus test. Some of her immediate family members in Bismarck went to a hotel as a precaution.
Clark has felt under the weather recently and is concerned about exposure while in Europe.
“There was a music festival that all of us abroad students went to and there were at least four people who tested positive there,” she said. "(To) find out afterward … that made me nervous."
After getting a taste of Europe in her study abroad program, Clark now faces many unknowns back at home. She says the experience has been surreal.
“I feel like it is a dream, almost like a movie and (it's) crazy to be a part of this,” she said. “It happened so fast.”
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