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International students share reasons for staying on campus during a virtual academic year

February 2, 2021
<p>The International Center pictured on July 7, 2020.</p>

The International Center pictured on July 7, 2020.

Photo by Matt Schmucker | The State News

Just before the semester was set to begin last fall, President Samuel L. Stanley Jr. announced the last-minute plans to transition classes to a virtual module due to the rising cases amid the ongoing global pandemic.

On-campus housing was also made extremely limited, and, so Spartans across the nation began to adjust to their workspaces at home. 

However, for international students, it is not always possible to “go home.” For many, time differences played a deciding role in the choice to live on campus. 

“From home it, would be really hard because the time difference is about seven hours, so I’d be on a really weird schedule," Hospitality business freshman Hannah Hassan said. 

Coming from Egypt, Hassan said that as a freshmen she also needed a new, college-friendly environment to focus on her academics. Staying on campus made more sense for her than staying back home.

Accounting junior Sade Omoniyi shared similar circumstances as there is a six-hour difference between Michigan and her home country of Nigeria.

“It’s not as bad as many of the other international students," Omoniyi said. "... But still, it's something."

Omoniyi said she recently discovered a medical condition and preferred to stay on campus as to not worry her parents and keep them updated more conveniently, in comparison to living off campus.

Some global travel restrictions in place due to COVID-19 have also made it more difficult for international students to return home. 

Last March, when the classes for the spring semester were made to go online, biochemistry junior Srishti Goswami had planned to go home. But on her way back to Bangladesh, one of connecting flights was canceled and she was stuck in New York.

“I was at the airport when they announced that all the airports were closed,” Goswami said.

Goswami was luckily taken in by friends in New York for the time being, until she was able to return home for the remainder of her semester.

With that experience in her mind, Goswami decided to return to campus for her next academic year.

“I was offered a job over the summer," she said. "I work as (an undergraduate learning assistant) here, so I just wanted to be on campus and do my job and be independent.” 

Like her peers, Goswami was also wary of the time difference. 

“Last semester most of my classes were in the afternoon, which is late at night back home, so that would be a problem," she said. 

Goswami currently resides in Owen Hall, where the local time aligns with her schedule.

Mental health, academic and community resources for international students can be found at the Office of Cultural and Academic Transitions website.

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