Students abroad in America left abandoned amid the COVID-19 epidemic
By Vu Nguyen and Karla Tran
Due to the coronavirus, many foreign students have been left stranded overseas with no way of getting back into their countries. The pandemic has left many people held back in different countries around the world.
More than 1 million international students studying in the United States live in college dormitories, prompting them to find a temporary place to live when faced with problems according to an article on how international students are facing the coronavirus.
The United States and many other countries had to keep people back in countries that have closed their borders to reduce the spread of the virus. Self-isolation measures, a nationwide lockdown, and airport closures are some notable measures countries are doing to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.
According to the CDC, ”To slow the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) into the United States, CDC is working with public health partners to implement travel procedures announced in several Presidential proclamations on novel coronavirus.”
Based on an article on how the State Department is struggling to bring back stranded Americans, it says, ”Around the world, U.S. citizens are finding themselves stuck in countries that have closed their borders in a bid to slow the spread of the new coronavirus, and in some cases, they fear for their lives. For many, the first instinct is to call on the U.S. Embassy for help.”
Some international students, due to visa restrictions, cannot work outside of school, making their financial capacity more and more limited when they do not have any backup savings. In addition, they also have to worry about tuition, which is much higher than that of native students.
Colleges say they have been quick to help international students by opening dormitories whenever possible, returning students home in some cases. New York University, which has more international students than any other colleges in the United States, says it has created an emergency fund for international students.
The government is doing everything it can to help students affected by the pandemic, but with the “American first” policy set by the Trump administration, international students will not receive grant aid.
When the situation is too tight, if the family is not well-off enough to rent a private house outside the dormitory, or even book a plane to return home, these international students are just living in someone’s house and not knowing whether they may get kicked out because of this inconvenience.
The college will provide and do what is most needed and enough for their students. According to an article about live updates of the coronavirus, “This is a turbulent time and I don’t know where to go,” said Anna Scarlato, an Italian international student.
She received the news in March that she would be expelled from the dormitory of the University of Chicago for the next few days due to isolation. Scarlato had to live in a dormitory at her boyfriend’s room at another university.
However, just the next day, the two knew that they would also have to leave the dorm. She accepted to rent a room in an apartment in Chicago but later learned that, because of the isolation order in Italy, her parents would not be able to go to the bank to send her rent.
In the end, her boyfriend’s mother bought a ticket for the two to return to California. “I don’t know where I’m going and what to do in the next two weeks or two months,” she said. “I feel blessed to have received help from his mother.”
Many students do not want their families to know about their own difficult situation, as they are struggling to earn money to pay their school fees.
Those who are lucky enough to buy tickets to return to their families are worried about legal issues to solve when they want to return to school. International student visas also require that they go directly to class, not online. This is also a problem for international students.
Emma Tran, a Vietnamese international student at California State University, said she only had enough money to live for another month and would probably have to return home. She lost both part-time jobs at college because of the epidemic.
As Americans are stuck in different countries, the State Department says that it’s trying hard to get those people back home safely. In order to rearrange flights, the department has to get permission from local governments but, in these uncertain times, it is hard to reach out to local governments for approval of these conditions.
Featured image (at the top of the page): Student’s flight is delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic. PHOTO SOURCE: CollegiateParent