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3 Things International Students Should Do During the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic

Posted on April 3rd, 2020 by Connor Blay

Wherever you are from and whatever age you may be, there is no doubt that you know about Coronavirus (COVID-19). For the first time in a very long time, people all around the world are facing the same issue. We understand that it may seem overwhelming, but there are a number of different actions you can take to help stop the spread of the virus, to take good care of your mental health and to prepare yourself for life once this has passed. 

1. Follow guidelines from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)

One of the most important things to do is make yourself aware of the recommended and, in some cases, legally required guidelines put in place to stop the spread of the virus. All around the world, events are canceling, public spaces are closing, many people are self-quarantining in their homes, or in some countries like India, the ill are quarantined in specific facilities. By now almost every country in the world has reported cases of COVID-19. A lot of countries around the world are taking preventative legal action against the spread of COVID-19. Other countries have not yet been heavily impacted by the virus and have not taken legal action, requiring citizens to use good judgment and to be prepared; do your best to make sure your family and friends are mindful of the way their actions impact the spread of the virus even if your country of residence hasn’t been greatly impacted at the present moment in time. WHO has advice that you should follow at this time*: 

  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly with hand sanitizer or soap and water
  • Maintain social distance (at least 1 meter/3 feet) from people who are coughing and sneezing
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
  • Cover your mouth with your elbow or a tissue when you sneeze or cough
  • If you have a fever, cough, and difficulty breathing seek medical attention early on
  • Stay informed and pay attention to updates about COVID-19

For international students living and staying in the US, the CDC’s guidelines are slightly different. Because the US has now reported the most COVID-19 cases out of any country in the world, the CDC has put stricter guidelines in place currently*:

  • Stay at least 6 feet (About 2 meters) away from other people
  • Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water
  • Use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol
  • Stay home if you feel sick
  • Wear a facemask if you feel sick
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces that are frequently touched daily

Following the guidelines from both of these institutions is the best way to stay healthy and to be prepared if you were to contract the virus. But you should also do your best to keep up-to-date with news on your own as changes are happening on a daily basis.

2. Take good care of your mental health

Many cities and states have put stay-at-home orders in place. During this period of quarantine and social isolation, you may start to feel stressed, anxious, lonely, or bored. There are a number of strategies you can use and actions you can take to make this time a little easier. International Student Insurance has come up with a list of 10 tips to stay happy and healthy during the pandemic: 

  1. Create a routine
  2. Pace yourself
  3. Get enough sleep
  4. Get some sunshine
  5. Listen to the experts
  6. Stay up-to-date but limit media exposure
  7. Be your own advocate
  8. Take care of your body
  9. Break up your day
  10. Take it one day at a time and focus on the positives

In isolation, things to do will become limited, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do anything to stay mentally healthy and physically active. It’s perfectly fine to go outside and exercise at a safe social distance from other people. Indoors, you can use streaming services to watch TV and movies, read books, cook a meal, video chat with friends, play a game, etc.

If you feel that your mental health is suffering, do not hesitate to ask for help. You should reach out to close friends, family, classmates, and co-workers. If your mental health begins to suffer on a larger scale, and you have suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at  1-800-273-8255 from inside the US for free and confidential support. For students outside of the US, refer to this list of international suicide hotlines to call should it come to this point.

3. Continue to plan for your international education future

While self-quarantining and social distancing are necessary to our making it through this pandemic, we encourage future international students to look forward and to continue making plans for their international education future. In an article published on March 9, 2020, the CDC advised higher education institutions to “Consider postponing or canceling student international programs.” As a result, most institutions have taken the advice and done just that.

If you’re already an international student studying in the United States, you will have a lot to consider regarding your future studies. Many colleges and universities are starting to offer courses to international students online, which was previously not allowed. F-1 visa rules have temporary exceptions to give a little more leeway when it comes to the number of online classes colleges and universities can offer to international students during the pandemic.

The COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t stopped international student interest in studying in the US and future international students should continue to search for schools that will fit their educational needs in order to stay prepared. In an address to international educators and students, Education International General Secretary, David Edwards said, “Today, teacher and education support personnel, union leaders, the world over, are coming together in myriad (countless) ways to find collective solutions to address the needs of their students, colleagues and communities… this is an unpredictable and difficult time that requires organized resistance and educational persistence. Yet today, Education International, our member organizations and the world’s educators are committed to getting through this together.” The international education community is here for you in this time of need and is proud to be a member of this community. Take this as motivation to continue to pursue your international education dreams.

Remember that this will end, and don’t lose sight of your goals and ambitions; we’re all in this together.

*CDC and WHO advice are relevant as of April 3, 2020. Please check the CDC and WHO websites for the most up to date advice. 

Written by Connor Blay

Connor joined in November 2019. He received his Bachelor’s of Science degree with a major in Information Communication & Technology at Florida State University in Spring 2019. Having recently completed his undergraduate higher education, Connor has a fresh perspective on how the process works and is passionate about helping international students through it. His background includes customer service, social media, and video production.

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10 Responses to “3 Things International Students Should Do During the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic”

  1. Anna Clarke Says:

    This is a really encouraging and heart-warming post. I love that you are encouraging students to continue to look to the future and this is essential to not let this world disaster get to you and feel hopeless. I would say even current international students should look to the future you have after you graduate and the difference you want to make in your life and others

  2. Connor Blay Says:

    Hi Anna! Thank you for your kind words. We agree that students should also look to the future after graduation!

  3. Emmanuel Celestin Says:

    I need some financial help please.

  4. Connor Blay Says:

    Hi Emmanuel! Use our International Financial Aid tools to find financial aid options available to you.

  5. oddy labs Says:

    hello, very nice article about the important measure we should take in this difficult time. we are all hoping that the situation will improve soon.

  6. Connor Blay Says:

    We are definitely hoping the same!

  7. Donna Norton Says:

    The importance of taking care of our mental health cannot be overemphasized now. After being self-isolated for so long, I started to pick depressing thoughts. It’s a time when we re-evaluate our relationships and life choices in general. It’s not bad, but it’s crucial not to overthink.

  8. Connor Blay Says:

    Agreed, Donna, I hope you’re doing better now. Don’t hesitate to reach out to a trusted individual for help if you feel like you need it!

  9. Josef Wills Says:

    Nice Post. Thank you for sharing a very informative post.

  10. Connor Blay Says:

    Hi Josef! Thank you for reading and for your kind words. We hope you’re staying safe! Feel free to share this with anyone else who might find it informative. 🙂

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