Home NewsCoronavirus Coverage Coronavirus chases international students

Coronavirus chases international students

by Sharon I. Ibe Mthembu

Like college students around the country, Texas Wesleyan international students have been affected by COVID-19.

But some Wesleyan international students are facing special hardships and situations. There are those who have gone back to their country of origin, and many internationals are worried about their families back home.

Norma Vallejo, coordinator of international admissions and student services, wrote in an email that she does not know how many international students have gone back to their home countries. Students did not reach out to her to let her know if they were going home.

“Students living off campus I assume are still in town,” she wrote, “and the university did not make students move out if they did not have a place to live. Residence Life just needed to know they were staying in the dorms so they could provide information on how things were being modified in the dorms for them. Students also decided to go home if they were able to get flights to their home country.”

Angel Siegle, a freshman from Venezuela, chose not to travel back home because of the current COVID-19 situation. He feared the travelling back home could be risky and decided to self-quarantine at Wesleyan.

Siegle says that living on campus has not been easy because it already felt as if he was quarantined because since the outbreak of the virus the library, the gym and other parts of Wesleyan have been closed.

“I have been trying to stay on campus and avoid and learning more about the symptoms,” he said, “and I would love to be with my family at this moment in time but because of COVID-19 I cannot and it is sad.”

Sukhman Sarkaria, a senior from India, is also living on campus and prefers to stay at Wesleyan because she has a room grant. She believes it is much more convenient to stay at Wesleyan than travel back home.

She feels that it is always hard for international students to be away from home and their families, but it is even harder now because travelling is riskier and students can end up feeling even more alone.

“Back in India, it is the same situation we are facing right now in the States, where there is a 21-day lockdown, and schools have been closed, markets are also closed,” she said. “Banks are also closed, which is extremely stressful because when it comes to finances, it becomes incredibly difficult to pay for our studies.”
For some students, going back home is the safer option.

Ruth Urbina travelled back to Honduras during spring break when there were fewer cases, but when cases increased, her country went into a complete lockdown and flights out of the country were banned.

She said people there can be arrested if caught leaving their houses. Staying home allows her to spend more time with her family. Her mom’s small store has been closed; only her father still has a job.

“Besides the entire quarantine situation, I thank God that I am with my family and I am alright,” she said.
Bev Nkomo, a sophomore from South Africa, returned home as soon as she could after she and her family heard about the spread of the virus.

Nkomo feels that the virus is affecting her by limiting her social interaction with friends and extended family. But the virus has also made her more grateful for life because it can be so short.

“The school system has transitioned online, and I am missing out on having the full experience because I cannot do my experiments which are important in building skills for my future career,” she wrote in a text. “I would only advise people to spend time with their families and focus on their goals, but most importantly lean on God.”

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