STUDYING IN TIMES OF THE CORONAVIRUS CRISIS (COVID-19)
Studying in times of the coronavirus crisis (COVID-19) is characterized by many uncertainties. Not just the question of the next exam period and class, but also how to pay the rent or the next meal. As a result of the Corona crisis, many students are fired or unable to work. The mini-job sector in the catering and hotel sector was particularly badly affected, where there is no job security. Many universities fire student assistants. It is more complicated for foreign students because they are not entitled to social benefits. Three out of four international students rely on their student job to make a living, not to mention difficulties related to the right of residence.
African International Students Initiatives (AIS-Initiatives) has recognized the problem and is now trying to help students with:
Financial challenges, International students from Africa, Eastern Europe, Asia, or Latin America are being hit particularly hard by the financial losses. Many parents don't have enough money to support their children in this crisis. Some of the students don't even have the option of flying back to their home countries, many of whom are struggling with financial constraints. In the hospitality industry, for example, employment contracts were suspended or not extended.
Handling the time zone for online lectures; Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the majority of students have returned to their respective homes. As a result, some students had to adjust to a change in time zone. Some students may need to wake up at times that are inconvenient or impractical for them.
For example, if a student lives in Johannesburg, South Africa, and that student had a class at 12:00 PM in Sydney, Australia, that class would be at 3:00 AM in Johannesburg, South Africa. We can imagine the difficulties this can pose for the student, not to mention the application and deadline, access to the internet connection in Africa, laboratory work, physical exercises, and clinical training.
Immigration status and border restriction; Ever since the coronavirus outbreak, citizens of the world have been facing travel restrictions, apart from the obvious threat of the pandemic. The majority of the Schengen Members started introducing border controls, one after the other. Later on, entry bans for non-nationals and non-residents were also introduced. The EU Commission recommended that a travel ban be placed for third-country citizens, something that was later on implemented by all member countries. This period of time was difficult for travelers and something that impacted international students as well.
Real estate crisis; International students living overseas are now expected to pay cancellation fees or have the option to continue paying apartment and utility bills as the border restriction issues persist.
Mental health; The mental health of international students is increasingly worrying due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A scientific result shows that, of the 195 students, 138 (71%) indicated increased stress and anxiety due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Multiple stressors were identified that contributed to the increased levels of stress, anxiety, and depressive thoughts among students. These included fear and worry about their own health and of their loved ones (177/195, 91% reported negative impacts of the pandemic), difficulty in concentrating (173/195, 89%), disruptions to sleeping patterns (168/195, 86%), decreased social interactions due to physical distancing (167/195, 86%), and increased concerns on academic performance (159/195, 82%). To cope with stress and anxiety, participants have sought support from others and helped themselves by adopting either negative or positive coping mechanisms. (Changwon Sohn, Sudeep Hegde, Alec Smith, Xiaomei Wang, Farzan Sasangohar: J Med Internet Res 2020 (3. September); 22 (9): e21279)
We are not policymakers, we are not rich or famous, we are ordinary students, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, and grandchildren who are trying to navigate the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis in order to bring about better changes in our communities worldwide.
Please, we ask for your support in dealing with the COVID-19 crisis.