Deciding to Stay or Leave During a Pandemic: International Student’s Perspective

EvCC international students discuss their decision to stay or return home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I am currently in South Korea, back to my home country,” said Soyeong Cha, an EvCC student from South Korea. “Immediately upon the outbreak of COVID-19, from my family’s concern about my safety, I had to decide to return.”

Courtesy photo from Soyeong Cha
Soyeong Cha, an international EvCC student from South Korea, photographed on campus before school closure.

According to the data provided by EvCC’s Vice President of the International Student Education, Visakan Ganeso, there are 106 international students who chose to return to their home country during the pandemic outbreak. 85 of them took the spring courses online remotely. 

The state government implemented a quarantine order and the EvCC campus is also closed. Under the pressure of an outbreak, international students from all over the world are deeply affected and experience their own stories.

Lee Sihoon went back to South Korea on March 28th because he said, “It was too dangerous to stay in America.”

For those students who returned to their home country, who are still trying to take online classes at EvCC,  “The problem with the most help is that they can’t find the textbooks the course requires,” Ganeson said. “There are also issues such as visa expiration and internet access restrictions.”

Soyeong Cha said, “From the outbreak, I had to change my entire plan for this year, including class schedule, internship and optional practical training.” The time difference is one of the most difficult issues, “Since South Korea is 16 hours ahead of the United States, my classes’ meetings mostly are scheduled at midnight, or very early morning.”

Courtesy photo from Mirei Maejima
Mirei Maejima, an international EvCC student from Japan.

Mirei Maejima from Japan chose to stay in the dormitories. “I’m afraid I can’t come back because of visa issues.” She still faces many problems, not only with school, but also discrimination.

“Since I am Asian, some people yell at me ‘go back to your country,’” Maejima said. “Now  I am used to it, I don’t feel scared about it. However, when I got that from a stranger for the first time I was so scared.”  She also shared that when she took a mask and gloves in a taxi, the driver expressed gratitude for the protective measures she had.

Yau Yin Kennedy Lam from Hong Kong, China also chose to stay in the U.S. “I really want to go back, but there will be a high risk of infection on the flight, I am worried that it is very dangerous for everyone.” In addition, the Chinese government has implemented a 14-day quarantine policy for returning overseas students. 

Courtesy photo from Yau Yin Kennedy Lam
Yau Yin Kennedy Lam, an international EvCC student from Hong Kong, China.

When Yau went to the supermarket, he saw many people wearing masks. “Before the outbreak, I knew people didn’t wear masks because they think people got sick wearing masks,” said Yau.

“This is life,” Ganeson said. “We are all always together. We will work hard to make sure our education will not be interrupted.” 

For more information about international education services during this time please contact the International Student education office via:

Facebook @ EVCC International Student Program

Instagram @ EVCC International Student Program