International students’ struggles during the COVID-19 pandemic

By Ava Turner

Elm Staff Writer

While the COVID-19 pandemic has been hard on all students, the impact of COVID-19 on International students at Washington College have been much harsher.

According to sophomore Daria Shirokova, the pandemic has called for a lack of socialization. 

“Socialization is crucial for international students since we get to learn much more than just academic knowledge through interaction with peers,” she said.

Shirokova is from Moscow, Russia. During the transfer to online classes, Shirokova was forced to move back to her family’s apartment in Moscow with her parents and two brothers. 

She said that with all her family members having to do remote work and studies, it was “hard to concentrate on [her] own studies, and the internet was overflowed, which led to technical/connection difficulties.” 

Shirokova said the time difference during the spring semester, forced her, “to study in the evening, but all of [her] club meetings/social events were later at night,” so she was unable to attend them since the time they would take place “would have been at about 4 am for [her.]”

These were some of the factors that led to Shirokova returning to campus for the Fall 2020 semester, which she is very grateful to have had the opportunity to do.

“Being on campus helped me build a healthier and more structured routine, which I enjoy,” Shirokova said.

According to Shirokova, “not many people are [on campus] at the moment, which makes it a little difficult to socialize and do anything else besides schoolwork, which can be hard sometimes.”

“COVID-19 has impacted the way we view education a lot this year,” Shirokova said. 

She said she is receiving a valid education but her education, “is not as good as it could be with a real-life interaction component.” 

Sophomore Prince Wakaren is currently in Kenya due to COVID-19 and finds himself struggling with the eight-hour difference between his peers in Maryland. 

Wakarensaid his current education, is “not the best thing…not ideal but not bad.”

He claims that with the time difference, he has been “sleeping really late” with online classes and work greatly impacting his sleep schedule. 

According to Wakaren,one of the negative effects the COVID-19 pandemic has had on his education is that his virtual classes “lack those practical skills” of in person classes. 

However, he does see a benefit to virtual classes with students having “more access to the professors” thanks to virtual office hours.

Sophomore Kelly-Morra Atud is from Cameroon, and she said she’s been affected by COVID-19 “in a negative way.”

“Online learning is very stressful and unproductive in my opinion,” Atud said.

She said she feels as if “[she] leaves [her] classes having learned nothing new.”

“A negative effect of COVID-19 is that it strips me of the full college experience which really is a downer,” Atud said.

With the current plan of having students return to campus next semester, international students will get the college experience they’re hoping for, not marred by time differences for those stuck at home, and a lack of socialization for those stuck by themselves on campus. 

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