When I said goodbye to my parents in Dublin airport in January, the last thing I expected was to be back home again within three months.
For everyone at Mercyhurst, COVID-19 has posed some very big challenges. For our international students, the stress has been heightened and those challenges were magnified. I’m writing this update from my home in Ireland, which I hurried back to as soon as Mercyhurst announced that we would be going online for the remainder of the semester.
For most international students, the primary concern was getting home. Beyond just wanting to be with family, there was the very real concern of international borders closing. I was told by my embassy to get home as soon as I could.
This meant packing everything up as quickly as possible and deciding what to bring home for an indefinite amount of time. I’m already regretting not bringing warmer clothes and some American snacks.
Many students were forced to leave lots of belongings behind, especially seniors who had anticipated having their parents help them move home after graduation.
For other students, leaving the U.S. is not an option. There are students still on campus because their country’s borders had closed before they could travel. Others may have vulnerable family members they should not go home to, or they may be applying for a visa extension that doesn’t allow them to leave the U.S.
Contrary to popular belief, flight prices haven’t plummeted too much unless you are booking for a flight for a few weeks away. I spent a small fortune getting home, trying to stay within smaller airports where the virus was less widespread.
Being home now, I’ve never been more relieved. With all that is going on in the world, I’m grateful to be with my parents, even if I can’t leave my home.
My parents are glad to have me (so far!) considering that my brother is staying where he lives in London, and my sister is a doctor working directly with coronavirus patients in Scotland.
As I write, Ireland has about 1,500 cases and we are on lockdown until at least Easter Sunday. In comparison to many of our European neighbors, we’ve been very lucky.
I’m worried about America. The news we are hearing from America is bleak, and I truly hope everyone can get a handle on this virus as soon as possible. I hope every Laker is staying safe.
To pass the time I have been doing my schoolwork, albeit with an annoying time difference that makes synchronous classes and meetings a lot harder. Thankfully I did not have any evening classes this semester to keep me up too late!
I have also been reading a lot, phoning friends and family, cooking, resting and imagining how good it will feel to hug my friends once all this is over!