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Studying abroad during the Covid: students testify

By Expat.com, student partnerpublished on October 13, 2021

8 mins

If there is one experience that every eligible student looks forward to, it is that of a university exchange in a foreign country. As we all know, the COVID19 pandemic has disrupted many projects.

As we struggle to emerge from the crisis, students wishing to benefit from a semester or a year in a school abroad (whether on a school exchange or on their own) have had their plans postponed, better, and sometimes aborted, in the worst case.

Studying in China during Covid: Valentin’s experience

21-year-old Valentin was to leave for Canton University in China for the next semester.

A few days ago, through the administration of my faculty, we received information from the university that was to host us. They just backtracked on the student mobility for the next semester while the deadlines for applying to other foreign establishments are outdated… We were simply sent an email telling us that due to the pandemic and border restrictions the university could no longer accommodate us.

It’s really frustrating when in France life seems to be picking up somehow, I didn’t expect to be blocked like this so close to the goal. Currently, one of my professors is doing his best to help me get a student mobility in Glasgow but I’m still not sure I can leave.To be able to validate my year, I now have the choice between taking courses on the internet from another Chinese university or finding a traineeship. Taking online courses from home when I was dreaming of discovering the other side of the world is really hard to accept and I don’t even know if I will be able to find an internship in such a short time so I really hope I can leave for Glasgow.My advice for students hoping to leave would be to have a plan B or even C because even if the pandemic has been going on for a long time and we think we’ll get out of it, every country and university has her period and everything can fall apart overnight “.

Studying in South Korea during Covid: Aurélie’s testimonial

South Korea, which for a long time remained closed to all foreign travelersexcept for compelling reasons, re-authorized the student visas this summer. However, for some months the cases of COVID19 are multiplying and the situation, rather than improving, seems to be deteriorating, which necessarily influences the experience of students on site.

Aurélie, 23, a student in South Korea confides:

“JI was very lucky because I had been waiting for a long time for an opportunity to study in South Korea. The concern is that at the moment we are very restricted in our movements. If Korea had few cases at the beginning of pandemicfor several months the situation has been less good and the government has had to impose more restrictive rules such as bans on gatherings, curfews and the obligation to wear the mask everywhere, even outdoors. I remain very happy to live my adventure but I also feel a certain hostility towards the strangersespecially since a recent incident that involved foreign students and Koreans who party illegally on a desert island. My classes are online so the experience isn’t total, I still think I’m one of the privileged ones because I’m discovering a very beautiful culture and I can still discover exotic landscapes and the city of Seoul.My advice would be to adapt as you can and enjoy as much as possible, while remaining respectful of the rules of each country. Our actions have consequences and not only on us but on the whole community of strangers in our host country “.

Studying in Canada during the covid: Aude tells…

Aude, 20, was at Montreal when restrictions were put in place Quebec, Canada. In addition to online courses at universities, the country has seen international border closures as between provinces, curfews and confinements :

“I wondered if I wanted to stay or go back to my parents. I lasted a few weeks then I came back. I felt so isolated, there was no point in staying when I couldn’t see anything canadian life. Even though I am young, I was also afraid of health system which did not protect me as much as if I were in France.

My advice for students who are considering a mobility right now would be to ask the question of their Mental Health. You have to be brave to go abroad but even more pandemic period. The restrictions gradually get up with the vaccines but we don’t know yet if we’re done with it the virus. It’s hard mentally to be away from people you love without knowing if borders will remain open or not and it’s hard to make friends in these conditions too”.

Studying in Spain during the Covid: Jeanne’s testimony

Jeanne, 22 years old, Barcelona made the choice to stay.

It’s not what I imagined for my year ofErasmusbut ultimately Spain after the confinement, I felt like I could go back to a little more normal life. Even if we had our classes spent in virtual mode, with curfewsI could still go out and walk around in a city that I didn’t know and that alone was already better than being at home, in Paris in my studio. Online courses don’t bother me too much, it even has a practical side and since I live with a roommate I’m never really alone! Moreover, in France I might have gone back to my parents during the confinementswhich would have put them in danger whereas by staying in Spain, I only associated with people of my age and therefore less at risk. There was no perfect choice, but I don’t regret staying, you have to go on living. Most of us only have one chance to experience a mobility abroad. I will soon no longer be a student and I think that for my resume and for my personal experience, I made the right choice. My advice would be to carefully assess the situation, which countries we are targeting and in what context we would leave because there is no point in putting yourself in danger either, but you have to start living again “.

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