International Student

COVID-19: Life for International Students


Is this really a dream?

Let’s take a deep breath. Everything is going to be okay.

As I go through social media feeds, it feels somewhat eerie posting content that doesn’t address the current world crisis: COVID-19.

What is COVID-19?

It is a respiratory illness that spreads from person to person, mostly within 6 feet of contact. (Center of Disease Control) Known also the coronavirus disease, it is said to have emerged from Wuhan, China in late 2019. With over 190,000 confirmed cases and 7,800 deaths worldwide (World Health Organization), this virus has disrupted the lives of millions of people and the global economy.

It is a pandemic, the worldwide spread of a disease.

For many Millennials and Gen Z youth, this is the first major world crisis in our adult lives.

This includes international students.

How have international students been affected?

As I am writing this, thousands of foreign students across the United States are facing a predicament.

If we go home, are we going to be quarantined? Who will take me to the hospital if I get sick? Will I be laid off and be forced to return to my home country early?

For myself, I’m worried about facing steep hospital bills if I get sick and am brought to the hospital. I’m worried about not being there for my parents in Taiwan if an emergency happens. In the end however, I’m lucky that I have a job and a house to live in.

Unfortunately, with many universities urging students to move out of dorms and student housing, many international students are left with little to no housing options.

In fact, the University of Pennsylvania said that their foreign students (except those from South Korea, China, Italy, Iran) “are expected to return to their home countries.”

Luckily, there are advocates fighting for such students, such as Dartmouth University International Student Housing.

There have been floods of tweets, Instagram posts, and Facebook videos of everyday folks fighting against the racism and bigotry we’ve come to expect during such trying times. Even artists and celebrities have helped lift our spirits. There are everyday acts of kindness by our neighbors that keep our hopes alive.

And that’s what matters.

So, what’s next?

Many international and out-of-state students are weathering the storm. However, we can’t do it alone. We all need to take responsibility.

Here’s what each of us can do:

1. Wash your hands
2. Avoid touching your face
3. Only go out if it is for an essential service (groceries, hospitals, visit family)
4. Stay home if you are sick
4. Cough into your elbows

Reach out to a friend!

If you know a foreign student, friend, or co-worker who is living alone and is thousands of miles away from family – reach out to them. It would mean a lot to us.

Although we have the incredible opportunity of studying and contributing to society in the United States, we are also human.

We miss the warmth of our parents’ embrace, home-cooked meals, constant company, and more importantly – safety among chaos.

Share useful resources

Here’s a list of sites that you can share with friends and family.

1. Center for Disease Control
2. Free Meals for Students in Southern California
3. U.S. Department of Labor Coronavirus Resources
4. CNBC – How to Cope With Financial Stress and Anxiety During the Coronavirus Pandemic
5. World Health Organization

Now let’s get through this pandemic together.

Featured photo by visuals on Unsplash


Marjon is the Creator of Third-Culture Thoughts. A political nerd and basketball enthusiast at heart, he writes about everything related to culture and the international experience.