The impact of COVID-19 on international students at FHSU


As the COVID-19 virus spreads, all FHSU campus classes are transitioning to online delivery. This raises the question of whether some international students will stay or go. 

A majority of international students are choosing to stay in Hays and continue their online classes. For graduate students who are about to face a comprehensive examination, the network in Hays can better ensure they complete their online comprehensive test.

Going back to their own countries might seem like a better choice for international graduate students who do not plan to graduate this year, especially Chinese students; however, the next step is also a challenge for them. 

Some international students are awaiting word on continuing classes online as the university transitions to that delivery model for the remainder of the semester. Some faculty are still working to fully move their classes online, but some international students are anxious as they await word on how that will be implemented, as well as continuing group projects.

Meanwhile, travel tickets are also a reason for international students deciding to stay. There have been few air tickets to return home recently. There are also some students whose flights were canceled by airlines. Otherwise, there are a few graduate students who do not plan to graduate this year and want to stay. 

“I hope to stay here to find some job opportunities, because if I go home, I will stay in the room and do nothing.” said X Wang, who is a communication studies student. “On the other hand, I also want to save money on air tickets. The job internship opportunity I found was not very reliable. No one reimbursed the airline ticket for me, and I have to pay it by myself, so I thought I wouldn’t go back.”

Wang also said staying in Hays lets her monitor how COVID-19 is affecting the world, and she can better make a travel decision based on future outcomes of the virus.  

“Speaking of the epidemic, I think that as long as we protect ourselves, there is no great possibility of being infected. So I will stay here temporarily to observe the situation,” she said. 

Yancen Zhou, who is an exchange student from Shenyang Normal University, said she will be returning home to complete her degree online. 

“I plan to leave here on March 25. Exchange students only need to stay here for one year, and this is my second semester here,” Zhou said. “All of our courses have been transitioned to online courses and can be completed after returning home, so I still want to go home as soon as possible.”

Zhou said that while there might be some hiccups with internet and travel delays, going home is the best option for her.

“Although we will face problems such as network instability and jet lag after going back, we can overcome them,” she said. “We have discussed with all the professors this week to make sure that it will not affect our learning progress.”

She plans to fly from Hays to Los Angeles, and then fly from Los Angeles to China. Referring to the opinions of her family, she said they also read related reports about COVID-19 and believed it might be more appropriate to go home than stay in the United States.

In response to overseas entry, China currently has some policies to deal with. More and more cities have announced that overseas immigrants must truthfully report personal information, conduct 14-day centralized quarantine, and conduct nucleic acid testing. 

“I have also heard of this information, and of course I will report truthfully and cooperate with quarantine. My parents have also consulted some information about the issues related to quarantine,” Zhou said.

Ticket prices have jumped, however, and Zhou said air tickets are much more expensive than before — almost three to four times as usual. In order to help stay healthy on the journey home, she has prepared goggles, a raincoat, N95 and medical masks.

Liming Gao is another international student from China who will graduate this May. He left Hays on March 18 and will arrive at Shanghai, which is a large city in China, and will need to be put in a centralized quarantine. After that, he can return to his hometown. He thinks the best challenge for him is spending a night at Denver. The airport has a large passenger flow and dense crowds, so he said he needs to be more careful.

As for the Korean high school students on campus, they are being required to return home due to their country’s policies. Some international students TMN spoke to are panicking about the current situation, but can do nothing besides stay healthy. Panic does not have any positive effects, but will drive negative emotions and affect physical health.

Some advice for international students who are staying in Hays and wish to remain healthy is to wash hands frequently, avoid going to crowded places, wearing a mask when going outside and avoiding panic. Additionally, pay attention to deadlines for online class assignments and exams.

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