Students Struggle With International Education During COVID-19 Pandemic

2 min read International students at Radford University are facing travel challenges and restrictions due to COVID-19.

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Photo Credit: (Artem Beliaikin) Many international students feel like their education is worth the risks.

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By Isabella Dominesey | Idominesey@radford.edu

International Students worldwide have faced new challenges in receiving an American-university education due to COVID-19, including those who attend Radford University.

With COVID-19 impacting university protocols, many international students have found coming to the United States for an education a challenge.

Radford University currently has 52 international students enrolled for the Fall 2020 semester, which is less than the number anticipated before the pandemic.

Radford University currently has 52 international students enrolled for the Fall 2020 semester, which is less than the number anticipated before the pandemic.

“COVID impacted the number of international students who had been admitted for the fall but were then unable to enroll due to continuing mandated travel restrictions,” Teresa King, Associate Director for McGlothlin Center for Global Education and Engagement, said.

According to King, some prospective international students had concerns regarding quarantine regulations and fears that immigration mandates would change during the fall semester.

Students who travel to the states for education also face the risk of being unable to travel home during breaks.

“The ability for students to travel home over breaks vary country to country with remaining travel restrictions,” King said. “Another concern is the ability to return to Radford in the spring, given the uncertainty of potential return of travel restrictions or regulations imposed by the Department of Homeland Security.”

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Photo Credit: (Christine Roy) Students who travel to the states for education also face the risk of being unable to travel home during breaks.

Leonard Wekesa, a graduate student from Kenya pursuing a Master of Arts Degree in Choral Conducting, said he is still unsure if he can travel home in the coming weeks.

“The fact that you have no idea when you can go back home, that’s a depressing feeling,” Wekesa said.

Many international students in the US intend to immerse themselves in American culture. However, that has now become increasingly difficult due to COVID-19.

“It’s become harder to make friends because you don’t know anyone, and you can’t see their faces properly,” Wekesa said. “People are hiding behind a shield so you can’t easily get to know them.”

Students also face restrictions on exploring the area since many businesses are limiting hours due to the pandemic.

Students also face restrictions on exploring the area since many businesses are limiting hours due to the pandemic.

“As international students, we love spending time going out to places and discovering America, but we can’t do that right now without worrying about catching the virus,” said Wekesa.

Despite this, many international students feel like their education is worth the risks.

“I came here in 2018, and I fell in love with the school,” Wekesa said. “I like the quality of staff here.”

According to Wekesa, being an international student during the pandemic requires a lot of caution when considering returning home, but the university is helpful towards those who wish to return home.