Studying abroad is a challenge in-of-itself. Not only are you expected to leave your family and friends, you must learn to speak a new tongue, discover cultural differences and learn to belong to a society that may operate extremely differently from your own. This is already a gargantuan task, but there’s always the reassurance that you can travel home if it all gets too much.
Cue Covid-19, the global pandemic shutting down everything; including your method of getting home. Being in a foreign country can be worrying enough, but when the truth is revealed that you’re not allowed to leave the country even if you wanted to, it can become a nightmare.
Luckily, this isn’t the case for Irina Ciorobea, 19, who elected to stay in the UK instead of flying home to Romania.
When asked why she chose to remain in the UK, Irina had this to say,
‘Because I thought it would be much safer for me and for my family as well, ‘cause going home involves going to an airport with a lot of people and the chances of getting probably infected would be much higher by travelling back home rather than staying where I am. I was following the recommendations by everyone.’
Irina started studying Events Management at the University of Greenwich in September 2019. She feels her decision to stay in the UK was the right one despite all of her friends flying home.
‘Naturally I know a lot of international students (being one myself). Everyone’s gone home that I know’ she stated in regards to other international students.
She added, ‘they probably think it’s much safer for them to be home than in lockdown in a foreign country that they didn’t know much about.’
The decision to stay in London as oppose to going back home was not taken lightly. When asked if she considered flying home she said,
‘Yes, I wanted to go home but I realised, like when everything started to get really out of control, I decided it was better to stay where I am until everything goes back to normal.’
Proving useful for working from home and keeping in touch with friends and family, the Internet has proven now more than ever that we as a society are interconnected much more than we realise.
Speaking to her parents on the phone, through messaging apps such as WhatsApp and through FaceTime, has allowed Irina to stay connected to her friends and family, despite deciding to stay in London. Irina speak to her parents ‘everyday’ and her ‘friends and other relatives every other day.’
As well as communicating with her friends and family, Irina is also using the Internet for her online studies.
University classes were moved to an online format for the remainder of the term (her term ending 2nd April) and have (for the most part) continued online in the new 2020/21 academic year. A lot of students have expressed their distain for online classes, and have stated that with everything going on in the world, meeting their deadlines is not their top priority.
Nearly all of the universities across the country decided to move to an online format. You’d think that with more time to spend at home and less time for other activates, that a lot of time can be spent on university assignments and essays. However, many students (Irina included) are struggling with coursework completion and deadlines, despite the prolonged periods of staying at home.
‘It’s a bit hard because we can’t really access the library properly’ Irina revealed.
Some courses have been interrupted more than others. For example, Maths and English classes are, for the most part, unaffected by Covid-19; however other courses such as politics, tourism and event-based classes struggle to continue to work due do the isolation instructions.
‘because of the virus and because I study Events Management, all of the events-side has shut down too, so we can’t really access information about events and find academic sources for assignments.’
It’s clear that the outbreak of Coronavirus has greatly interrupted the lives of those all over the globe; potentially even more so for those wishing to travel to be with their families. However, for Irina it has not proven such a disaster not being able to get home. Rather, she’s focussing on her work and keeping touch with her friends and family from both the UK and Romania.
By Nicholas Jones
The Crow’s Nest is a Greenwich Students’ Union Student Media channel. The views expressed in this website do not necessarily reflect those of GSU, its trustees, employees, officers or the University of Greenwich.