More than 80 countries are represented in Chapman University’s international students community, all affected by the pandemic in different ways. Photo courtesy of Ethan Williams.

For most Chapman students, attending a 4 p.m. Zoom class may seem like nothing. But what if you live on the other side of the world? 

Like junior Ishani Patel, who attends class from Nairobi, Kenya. Her Zoom time is 2 a.m. 

As another summer amidst a global pandemic approaches, most Chapman students have found their rhythm navigating life through COVID-19’s new rules and regulations. While the pandemic has caused great amounts of stress upon the Chapman community for the past three semesters, very few can say this stress was cross-continental. Chapman’s international students can.

Patel, an  economics and data analytics major, has been home in Nairobi since August. Patel shared that the most difficult time for her during the pandemic came from when the Trump Administration proposed to deport foreign students who were unable to attend classes on campus last spring.

Before the pandemic, Ishani Patel used to travel the world, visiting sights such as the castle in Bangalore, India. Photo provided by Ishani Patel.

“I feel lucky to have an incredible support system here and at Chapman,” said Patel. “Lots of people were offering support, even casual friends.”

Though since returning home, her greatest struggle these past two semesters was keeping up with going to school on the other side of the planet.

“The time difference is difficult with school, especially since I am also interning at two venture capital firms,” said Patel. “But for the most part, the teachers have been so understanding.”

While some have been struggling to keep up with classes outside the country, others have been struggling to return home for the summer.

Dave Sunby, director of Residential Life at Chapman University, reassured that any student who is unable to return home this summer is guaranteed a space in any of Chapman’s active residential housing areas.

“We guaranteed any international student who needed housing last summer that we could provide them housing with us,” said Sunby. “Housing costs were the same as for any other student living on-campus over the summer.” 

Christopher Li snaps a photo in front of his old high school in Hong Kong. Photo provided by Christopher Li.

Sunby claimed it’s hard to tell how many students will need accommodations at the moment because Residential Life just began accepting housing applications for the summer.

“We are just starting to get these requests in, but I do believe we’ve had two to three at this point,” said Sunby.

According to the COVID-19 Travel Tracker on NBC News, Sixteen countries are completely closed to travel from America, including Belgium, France, Iraq, New Zealand, and Saudi Arabia.

While some international students are permitted to travel home, the effort to do so due to quarantining and other various travel restrictions are causing second thoughts. 

Christopher Li, a senior film studies major from Hong Kong, shared that he is more determined to stay in California once the semester ends.

Last year when the pandemic began, Chapman Residential Services accommodated Li’s living situation until he was able to travel back home. While Li can reasonably return to Hong Kong this summer, the effort of quarantining and lengthy testing when he arrives in Hong Kong is not necessary for his post-graduate plans.

“I went home last summer and I can certainly go home now if I would like to,” said Li. “But there are a lot of hurdles to jump through.”

Max Weirauch visits the sandy shores of Venice Beach. Photo provided by Max Weirauch.

Max Weirauch, a junior business major who used to attend Chapman University from Hamburg, Germany, shared that his experience in the pandemic has been a lot different from most international students.

“My family lives in the US, too. They relocated with me,” said Weirauch. “There would be no reason for me to go back [to Hamburg], there’s not much for me there right now.”

But that’s not to say that the pandemic hasn’t given Weirauch a sense of isolation. Last October, Weirauch and his family moved from their home in Palo Alto, California to Reno, Nevada.

“I had a lot of friends in [Palo Alto], so it was nice to have them close by at the beginning of the pandemic, but I don’t know anyone here in Reno, I have no friends here,” said Weirauch.

Weirauch’s passion for photography and photo editing reflects his own global mindset. Photo provided by Max Weirauch.

As international students learn to adapt to life in another summer in a pandemic in various ways, debating whether the price of going home during these times and seeing friends in family is really worth it appears to be at the top of the list.

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Ethan Williams is a senior film studies major and visual storytelling minor at Chapman, as well as the art manager and writer for ChapBook Magazine.