What it Means to be an International Student in Lockdown
The 2020 Covid-19 pandemic has severely affected all of us regardless of our social status. Whether we are working-class or just students, this pandemic has forced us to retreat to our shells. Perhaps the most drastically affected population is the international students. Several international students were forced to reconsider their decisions and hence, rethink their lives just because of lockdown. They were forced to live a life that was much different compared to what they would have imagined, just like the rest of us, but with harsher consequences.
This article aims to put forward what it means to be an international student in lockdown.
- Lack of social life
This is perhaps the most affected part of any international student’s life: social interactions. Due to repeated lockdowns in many countries and most countries opting for extension of lockdowns, the social lives of international students have gone for a toss. Just imagine, if the only social interaction you get is through your school or college, how can you stay socially active during a nationwide lockdown? In addition to that, all universities have closed campus thoroughly in these lockdowns, hence, the students can’t even go to the libraries. This leads to the complete cutting down of any left social ties as the library used to be a great place to both study and meet new students.
Furthermore, the grocery stores and malls are also closed with a few exceptions where only grocery shopping is allowed but maintaining strict rules and social distance. Therefore, any remaining hope for social interaction has gone down the drain for an international student due to this lockdown. Moreover, the dorm rooms are also empty because most of the other students who live in the country have gone to their homes. Thus, the international students who stayed back, are in complete social isolation in this lockdown!
- Lack of physical activities
This lockdown has also brought about a severe lack of physical activities and sports as most people as quarantined in their own homes or apartments or dorm rooms. For international students, most physical activities used to take place on the college campus or the school premises. As all schools and colleges are closed indefinitely, these international students now are left with no choice but to live a life without any kind of physical activities or sports. This means that their health conditions will most probably deteriorate during the lockdown. And there is no way they can get out and exercise.
The only way to remain relatively fit during this extensive period of lockdown is to perform bodyweight exercises in the room. Freehand exercises like push-ups or burpees are great examples of using gravity in your favor to keep your muscles and bones working. Medical experts say that in order to maintain bone and muscle density, you need to perform some kind of resistance training. These bodyweight exercises will provide exactly that and you do not even need any equipment to perform them.
- Effect on mental health
The lockdown’s impact on the mental health of international students all around the world has been nothing short of catastrophic. Lack of social interaction and the absence of any physical activity can easily catch up to anyone’s mental health. Add to that the fact that international students are quarantined far away from their friends and family. These factors can play a crucial role in developing mental disorders or illnesses in international students. Mild to severe depression, anxiety, panic attacks are all part and parcel of the international student lifestyle in this lockdown! One of the ways to combat such mental health issues is to practice journaling. This activity involves writing down your negative thoughts and then organizing them to find a pattern in those thoughts. After that, you try to find the logic behind those negative thoughts.
This can also help with anxiety and panic attacks as well. One more way to fight against these mental health issues is to maintain a routine and meditate regularly. Maintaining a routine gives our minds an inherent sense of purpose and meditation helps to calm us down and excessively lowers blood pressure. By practicing these on a regular basis, international students can stay mentally fit in this extended lockdown period.
- Forced to adapt to digital learning methods
Due to the complete shutdown of schools and colleges, digital learning platforms are at an all-time rise in the education sector. Platforms like Zoom meeting app and online assessment apps experienced a rise of over 90 percent in terms of usage in the past 12 months alone! As a result of this, the entire education curriculum of international students has totally shifted to online. Hence, most of them have become dependent on this study from their home environment. However, most international students find it difficult to retain the information from an online lecture compared to the traditional classroom lectures. This is due to the fact that many international students are not fluent in the main language and sometimes teachers teaching students on the Zoom app or any other online platform can be difficult to understand for non-native people.
Not only this, but many international students may not be well accustomed to this new online style of teaching, which may lead to difficulties understanding the concepts. In addition to that, some students are camera shy and do not want to show their faces to everyone just to clear a doubt. Hence, they will suppress their desires to ask the doubts which in turn may hamper their studies in the long run. The only way to face this issue is to adapt to the new normal as soon as possible. International students need to understand that, in order to make the most of this opportunity, they have to optimize the learning process and overcome their fear of asking any doubts in online lectures.
- Canceling of part-time jobs and internships
Most online students earn their pocket money through some kind of part-time job or an internship which pays them enough to make it through in a foreign country. However due to the extended lockdown, even normal jobs have been cut off and employees have been released by several companies, let alone part-time jobs and internships. In such a situation, it is very difficult for an international student to pay the bills while also paying for the student loan. Having an internship or a part-time job means that, at least the students can pay some of the interest on the loan amount and also help themselves with their day-to-day finances. But in this pandemic, jobs are nowhere to be found and internships are cut short without prior notice. As a direct consequence, international students are suffering financially due to a lack of income.
Moreover, the school or college fees have not dropped a bit, so the expenses are the same but the income has vanished for international students, giving rise to a financial nightmare for them! One way to help yourself if you are an international student in this situation is to start giving online tuition. That is the only way to earn money while being in absolute isolation during this extensive lockdown period. One other way might be to complete other students’ assignments for easy money. That also helps with your own studies to help understand the concepts more precisely if you are an international student in lockdown.
- Moving together to save rent
In order to fight the severe financial crisis brought about by the lockdown, many international students decided amicably to move together and shift their stuff all in one apartment to save the rent money. This is a brilliant place to start for any international student who just lost their part-time job or internship and now wants to save as much money as possible. Paying for rent is by far the biggest expense for students living away from home. Thus, if you can save that money you can be at least financially safe in such volatile weather. Students who shifted together report saving almost 50 percent of their previous expenses due to shared apartments or rooms.
Another way to save rent money is to shift to dorm rooms or hostels instead of living in apartments. This is due to the fact that apartments cost much more than dorms or hostels and normally they are not shared. By living in dorms or hostels not only you will get the property for much cheaper than an apartment, but also, you will be able to share the dorm or hostel with several other students and hence save paying the whole rent all by yourself. In addition to these advantages, you will also have some much-needed social companionship in these tough times. And thus, your mental health will most probably remain much more stable than if you would have spent the lockdown all by yourself isolated in your rented apartment. These are the reasons most international students in various countries across the globe have chosen to move together into dorms and hostels during the lockdown period.
- Asking tutors for one on one sessions
Tutors are the busiest people even during this lockdown. But in order to keep the momentum in studies, international students often ask them to conduct one on one doubt clearing sessions. These sessions are not only used by the students to clear their doubts but also to repeat the concepts which they missed in the online lecture. It has been mentioned earlier that most international students are not native speakers and so, there may be a communication gap when the original online lecture was given. These doubt clearing sessions are also used by the international students to meet that communication gap and solve the problems. Sometimes the teacher may not have the time to conduct a one on one session. That is where the advantage of studying on an online platform comes to play.
Since everything is online due to this pandemic, teachers can give the one-on-one lecture at their desired times and the students can adjust accordingly. It has been reported by many international students that this approach has helped them a lot to both improve their studies and to solve their issues. Therefore, conducting one on one sessions and taking advantage of the online education system can turn out to be very beneficial for international students especially during the lockdown period.
- The struggle of procrastination
This is a relatively new but a critical problem for international students during the lockdown. As mentioned earlier, in the lockdown, all normal routines have changed drastically and we have all shifted towards a new normal. In this new normal, almost all our daily activities and work-life have been forced to commence from the comfort of our homes. For the student community too, their comfort level got quite high as they now no longer need to get ready to go to schools or colleges. They just need to grab their morning coffee and sign in at the right time and listen to an online lecture conducted by the teacher from the comfort of his own home. As you can imagine, the comfort level has got much higher due to this pandemic. Due to this, many international students report facing the vicious wrath of something called procrastination.
Procrastination is the process of delaying valuable work citing useless reasons as a means to avoid that work. On a global scale, students are the part of the population who are the worst affected by procrastination. International students are no exception to this statistic. Further, due to them staying away from their homes and loved ones it becomes easy to procrastinate and avoid working because there is no one to tell them otherwise. That is why international students need to buckle up and fight procrastination from the very beginning. One simple way to do this is to set up an alarm to commence work every day. And then following the same alarm and thus, sane routine every day without fail. Remember that, lack of a routine is actually a lack of discipline. And procrastination breeds a lack of discipline. This is why a routine is much needed in the lives of an international student in lockdown.
The lockdown has impacted international students across the globe in multiple ways. These were only a few of them. However, they do give you a glimpse into what the lives of international students have been like in these unprecedented times.