As coronavirus continues to spread globally at a rapid and unprecedented scale, it has left everyone clueless as to what exactly is happening and when will this crisis be over. All public spaces from movie theatres, offices to schools and colleges stand largely shut, not just in India, but abroad as well. This has left international students baffled and helpless. Borders stand shut. Flights have been cancelled. This is a very stressful scenario for both the parents as well as for students who are studying outside of India, away from their loved ones and with limited resources. Then there are students who have safely returned to India. although, the worry over their future and that of their studies looms large of over their head. Ria Chordia is a student of Indian origin who has been studying in the USA and because of the pandemic had to return to India.
Pandemic disrupts campus life
Ria is a freshman at Savanah College of Art and Design, Savanah. She is currently majoring in user experience design and had joined college last fall. She resides on campus that is well equipped with all necessary facilities. Recently when her summer term ended on March 12, they were given a notice. Due to the rise in the cases of coronavirus, they will be conducting the next quarter online which will be starting from March-end, it said.
I felt like I was stuck with no choice. You had no idea if you will be able to reach home or not. you were just jumping between all these legal measures. The worst part was that nobody saw it coming.
The sudden announcement created a lot of anxiety as well as panic. Along with her, other students also had a lot of doubts and queries. The first one being how could classes that used to take place in art studios and had quite a practical perspective on it, be conducted online? Their syllabus included 3D modeling, pottery, still life, etc. Secondly, the college had announced that only one building and cafe would be functioning on the campus and the rest would be closed. With limited resources at her disposal, and innumerable rumours doing rounds both on the campus and on social media, Ria had to make a decision.
Everyone was being quite paranoid about the whole thing, revealed Ria, “I felt like I was stuck with no choice. You had no idea if you will be able to reach home or not. you were just jumping between all these legal measures. The worst part was that nobody saw it coming.”
Economically, emotionally and physically
Speaking to SheThePeople.TV, Ria said that the situation took a toll on her economically, emotionally, mentally and physically. “Economically because last-minute tickets are quite expensive and mentally because of all the haywire. It was also because while coming back to the US I had made up my mind to stay here for a year and not go back and make use of all the time I had. It was very hard for me to convince myself to stay there for a year without meeting my family, friends and of course food, and then this happened. All the plans and goals went down the drain,” said she.
Family is the support that you need in these desperate times. The best we can hope for, is this to clear out soon, so that we can go back to our normal lives.
The desire to go back home amidst a crisis is almost instinctive. According to Ria, “Now more than ever I just wanted to be back home, with my family. I got my tickets done in such a haste and with little clarity. There were doubts as to if I was quarantined. Will my visa will still remain valid? Will they let me enter the country again? All these questions were just lingering. ‘We will see whatever happens,’ that is all I could tell myself.”
While this piece was being written, no cases of coronavirus have been reported in Savanah, but cases have been reported in Atlanta which is a four-hour drive the said state. So it is quite important to take precautions. “We understand the decision taken by the college, but it was just that we were given no time to process it. Most of the students have gone back home, there are a few who are staying on campus due to some reasons,” Ria said.
While the future remains uncertain, Ria can find comfort in the fact that she is with her loved ones aidst this crisis, and not fighting it all on her own. “At last, it is such a relief to be back home with friends and family. Family is the support that you need in these desperate times. The best we can hope for is this to clear out soon so that we can go back to our normal lives.”
Shreya is an intern with SheThePeople.TV