Universities across the world have shut down to stop the spread of COVID-19. The lockdown has brought an unforeseen circumstance to the education community which has international students taking most of the impact as they are stuck in the dilemma of remaining in the country to pursue their education or returning home to reunite with their family. International students fear the borders will not open upon return if they decide to go home. Having to make a decision has taken its toll mentally, physically, emotionally and financially.
Many who have opted to stay behind to ensure that they can continue their schooling after all this is over, must ensure that they have a place to call home. Students living on campus took the most heat as they had to look for where to stay temporarily due to the short notice to move out of the on-campus residence.
So far, I have to applaud how gracefully my university has handled this situation as classes have since transitioned online. My institution has put measures in place so that students’ grade doesn’t suffer this period which includes deadline extension on school work. The hardest part for me has been working on my research from home. It gets to a point where it becomes mentally exhausting. Asides getting emails regularly about COVID-19, my supervisor checks in on her students to find out how they are doing.
To protect my mental health during this lockdown period, I have decided to shift my focus from worrying about the pandemic to simply enjoying the isolation. Interestingly, it has not been boring as I have been swamped with school deliverables which make the days go by really fast and sometimes feel like I do not have enough time to meet my deadlines. With social distancing and only going out when necessary, I have decided to avoid frequent visits to the stores to limit exposure to the virus.
According to Business Insider, a third of the world’s population is on lockdown which has lots of students worried about their families back home. Some married students are apart from their spouse and can’t provide for them in this time of crisis. The uncertainty of the future is scary as this pandemic does not mean that bills will not be paid. The lockdown has brought about the limited access to cash due to loss of job and inability to receive funds from home.
Despite the Canadian Government offering a $2000 fiscal stimulus package to residents of Canada, not all international students qualify for it. This means international students have to continue sorting out their expenses amidst the lockdown. Reach out to the international center at your University whilst speaking to your bank and any other monthly incurred cost provider on how they can help with managing your bills this period. Essential service providers are hiring part-time and it is a tug war deciding whether to work or starve. The harsh reality right now is when all things are up and running, many international students may not be able to continue their education due to the financial impact of COVID-19.
Those who are anticipating graduating this spring do not know what the future holds as companies are either cancelling or putting recruitment on hold. No one knows what effect this has on students applying for a work permit.
Till this is over, be sure to check on your friends and family especially those abroad who are living by themselves. Stay safe !