Anna Volentics speaks to students about how the pandemic has affected their study abroad experience.
The past couple of weeks have been a tough time for everyone around the world. The University of Glasgow has closed its doors to its students and staff, to keep the community safe. However, this sudden change forced a number of students to return home early, including study abroad and exchange students, who were spending their spring semester at the University.
These students try to deal with the situation in the best way they can, however, remote learning and the sudden change in pace have been difficult not only for the University, but for the students having to leave so suddenly as well. Many might have no idea how this unexpected change affected study abroad students, who merely had a few days to pack up all their belongings and leave the country.
Casey Naranjo, a second year exchange student from the United States said, “It definitely was hard to find flights back to the U.S. with only a day's notice. Everything was either getting cancelled or extremely expensive. I tried to get support from my school, but ended up being run in circles with different answers which almost just made it harder.”
There are also some students who have not been able to leave the country yet, due to the fact that their home country is too dangerous to return to. Lorenzo Galbiati, an exchange student from Italy said, “It is very weird because I was used to seeing many people every day. Now walking on campus in the evening and seeing only the lights of my house makes me sad.”
The Accommodation Services have been very kind to the international students who have been stuck in Glasgow due to the current situation. Alistair MacDonald, an exchange student from Switzerland said, “I think they’re doing a good job because if we can’t go home they let us stay a bit. Whereas other international students in other universities have been kicked out of their accommodations.”
Due to the sudden changes, the University has moved the leftover classes online, in order to accommodate students who had to leave. However, since there was not much time left in the semester, some classes have been cancelled. This created hardships in having the students take their final exams, so most first and second year exams were cancelled as well.
Jill Morrison, Clerk of Senate and Vice President at the University of Glasgow said, “We are acutely aware that the current Coronavirus pandemic will be causing a great deal of disruption, distress and anxiety to many. We will be varying our regulation in order to ensure that the impact of these circumstances is taken fully into account.”
Naranjo said, “For me, it feels like most of my schooling has been put on hold with finals being cancelled or having only one project due in the next month. I haven’t had Zoom classes like many friends in other schools. It definitely feels like I’m left to finish learning this semester on my own.”
These times have been challenging for students all over the world, whether they left to go home or stayed in Glasgow. In the uncertain times they all try to find their own ways to cope with the changes.
Naranjo said, “My biggest struggle adjusting back has been in the lack of human contact. It’s hard not being able to see friends or make plans to go out. It’s not only sad to think about how my time abroad is over, but I can’t even really share the experience with anyone, since I’m stuck in quarantine.”