International students and COVID-19: transitioning, travel and time zones

International students and COVID-19: transitioning, travel and time zones

Alexandra Puga

The University is home to over 2,500 international students from more than 120 countries working on getting their education in New York City. Adapting to life and education in the city is enough of a challenge for students around the globe. In the midst of the pandemic, international students have had to quickly adapt. The Pace Press spoke with three international students, two who went home and one who decided to stay at the University.

University Freshman Michael Goh flew back to his home country, Singapore, on March 17. As of April 7, Singapore has a total of 627 cases and six total deaths. 377 people in Singapore have fully recovered from the disease and have been discharged from the hospital or community isolation facility.

“The number of COVID-19 infections has rapidly increased in Singapore due to a lot of imported cases,” Goh said. “Though not on official nationwide lockdown yet, we are practicing social distancing very seriously and many public venues have been temporarily closed.”

As a result of the time difference, Goh is 12 hours ahead of the east coast. When not focusing on school, Goh finds ways to entertain himself. “I am watching movies and TV shows, reading books, chatting with friends through social media, watching YouTube videos and having conversations with my family at home,” Goh said.

As the University has put a temporary hold on move-outs from the residence halls, Goh is in no rush. “I was not able to move everything out of my dorm room. I plan on graduating from Pace University NYC in 2023, so for sure I’ll be back to get my things and earn my degree here!”

Michael Goh Instagram: @mgoh147perfection

University freshman Relle Reavis has relocated to Oahu, Hawaii, which is six hours behind EST. She now has to wake up early in the morning to attend her online classes. “It’s a hard transition,” Reavis said. “Right when I felt comfortable with living on the mainland for the first time in my life, I’m taken away from my new home. For the  first week of online classes, I woke up at 3:30 a.m. HST every weekday for my 10 a.m. EST classes. By the end of the week, I finally had a new plan with my teachers to do online classes that included not waking up at 3 a.m.”

In her area, social distancing has caused a stay-at-home order and like all other states, only essential workers are allowed out of the house. According to ABC Island News, COVID-19 cases jumped by 23 percent over the past day as of April 5. According to the state’s Department of Health, Hawaii has 410 confirmed cases, with Oahu totaling 312 cases as of April 5. “If you are caught, you could receive a $500 fine,” Reavis said.

Reavis went home for spring break without knowing what the future could hold. “I have not moved any of my belongings out and I only have a week’s worth of clothes I brought with me for spring break because I thought I would only be home for the break. I have no idea when I can come back and get my things. I have asthma, so I’m a bit worried to be leaving my house.”

To pass by the time when not focusing on work, Reavis said, “I’ve been playing lots of Animal Crossing and enjoying spending time with my family. I also just joined a sorority, so I have lots of online meetings to attend as well!”

Reavis continued, “I am very lucky, though, to live in Hawaii where the weather is very beautiful and I get lots of sunshine.”

Relle Reavis Instagram @really_Relley

University freshman Jasmine Pham from Vietnam has decided to settle in New York City. Pham was unable to gather her things and head home in time. There were many things for Pham to consider about where she was going to settle during th3 pandemic.

“I couldn’t go home because it just takes so much work,” Pham said, listing concerns such as transportation and the time difference, among others. Pham continued, “What if I catch the virus on my way home? I don’t want to spread it out to everyone else! So the best option for me was staying still.”

“Thanks to Pace’s generosity, they keep the campus open and safe,” said Pham, a resident of Maria’s Tower. “Also the cafeteria is available, so I don’t need to worry about being starved or having nowhere to go during this sensitive period of time!”

Aside from attending Zoom classes, Pham has found ways to stay busy. “During this time, I allow myself to relax a bit more like sleeping more than I need, or eating whatever I want to kill time,” Pham said. “Also, I spend more time taking care of myself like doing my skincare, self-care, reading more books, listening to music and watching Netflix. I also spend about 20 to 30 minutes every night before bed to do meditation.”

As the country grows frustrated with continued isolation, instances of NYC residents not practicing social distancing are happening more and more frequently. “I am kind of mad because I have seen some people around me not taking this COVID-19 thing seriously. They still gather as [a] group when they should practice self-quarantine now! Last week, I went to Fulton Market to do my grocery shopping and there was a man coughing right in the middle of the way without covering his mouth.”

Pham plans on heading home as soon as the situation dies down. “Right now I don’t need to pack my things,” Pham said. “I will do all those processes to move out later on.”

Jasmine Pham @Jasjasu

Whether you are studying in New York, on the West Coast or on another continent, you are not alone. Besides attending Zoom class or doing homework, there are plenty of ways to make the most out of quarantine. Practicing social distancing may be hard, but it is important to flatten the curve and stay home.