For OVS international students, the shadowy uncertainty that has been cast by the Coronavirus has fostered doubt, depression, fear, and apprehension as they consider whether to return to the Upper Campus for the second semester.
As of Thursday of this week, there had been more than 3 million COVID-19 cases and 35,104 COVID-related deaths in California since the beginning of the pandemic, according to a New York Times database.
While some international students returned to campus over the past few months, some never did. Because of the high risk of getting infected by the Coronavirus, many of them stayed at home, overseas, distant from the school community.
Junior Carlton Hsu is one of them.
A resident of Taiwan, he stayed at home in Taipei for the first semester of his junior year, and he has started the second semester the same way. Learning updates about the virus from the news, his family is worried that if their son goes back to campus, he’ll get infected during the travel back and forth.
“Because of the pandemic, the news everyday is reporting the rising cases of the virus,” Carlton said. “My father and mother watched the news and found out that almost all of the cases back [into Taiwan] are from foreign countries.”
Unlike Carlton, senior Bob Chen went back to campus midway through the first semester, but only after a 28-day-long self quarantine in two different countries.
Bob could not enter the United States by a direct route due to the U.S. travel ban on travelers who have been in China, as he and his family spent most of the last summer vacation in Shenzhen, China.
“The journey back was tortuous,” Bob said. “It was the travel ban that restrained me from flying directly into the US. I went to Mexico and stayed there for 14 days in order to ‘qualify’ to enter the US. There wasn’t any mandatory quarantine imposed by the US government, but I did stay in a self-isolation mode for the majority of time.”
Although Bob’s family was concerned about his safety, they still sent him onto the journey back to campus so he could go to live class sessions instead of going through recordings of them.
“We had a tough time finalizing our decision for my return,” said Bob, who is staying in Los Angeles to start the second semester but hopes to return to Upper Campus as soon as possible. “But ultimately we agreed on coming back since I will be able to attend live classes rather than watch recordings.”
As daring as Bob was, he wasn’t a daredevil. Going to an alien country by himself in a time of crisis, he was anxious like anyone would be.
“My unease immediately faded as I passed the immigration in Mexico and got settled in my hotel room,” Bob said. “[But] I definitely felt somewhat apprehensive when traveling alone to an unfamiliar country.”
Just like Bob, many other international students now face mandatory quarantine as they go back to their homes in China, Korea and Japan during the holiday season.
Junior Darren Jin is one of them. He went back home to Korea during the Thanksgiving holiday, and was quarantined for 14 days. A while before that, he was also in self-isolation when he returned to OVS as the online curriculum was very challenging for him.
“All the quarantines [are] harsh,” Darren said. “But I understand because it is [a] pandemic and this is the time to get together and get over this situation.”
With students coming back to their homes for Christmas, they now face quarantine again. Spending more than half of their break being confined in a room, they have many upcoming challenges.
Carlton remains home. And the news on television doesn’t bear much hope.
“Many international students come back to Taiwan, and almost all of them got the coronavirus,” Carlton said. “Looking at this situation, my parents believe that returning to campus isn’t an option for now.”Share