International Student Experience During Pandemic

Written by Giang Nguyen, Schmidthorst College of Business Communications Intern

I spent my first two years of college at University of Platteville-Richland in the small town of Richland Center, Wisconsin. When I transferred to Bowling Green State University, I was excited and hopeful for the opportunities I would have in the Schmidthorst College of Business. Bowling Green is a lovely town and BGSU is the perfect size. I spent my first year at BG navigating around the university, networking, and exploring many different opportunities. After spending my first semester working as a food service worker in the Falcon’s Nest, I eventually landed a job at BGSU Marketing and Communications. Everything was going great!

Then Covid-19 arrived, and I encountered dramatic changes. For international students with roots here and abroad, the global pandemic posed numerous challenges. I remember the sheer panic of my Vietnamese friends here in BG as they scrambled to pack their suitcases to get on one of the last flights back to Vietnam in March 2020. Several days after BG went virtual, the borders were closed. Some of my friends made it in time, many did not.

Vietnam is one of the world’s leading nations in battling Covid-19.For Vietnamese abroad, it’s a curse in disguise. To minimize virus spread, you must block every incoming group of potential carriers from overseas to protect the domestic citizens, halting all inbound commercial international flights. Vietnamese students, ended up stranded abroad, and the only way to get home is to sign up to be repatriated. A handful of repatriation flights every month of were unable to accommodate the ever-growing waitlist of people who wish to get home, and waiting times are can several months. In short, I didn’t know when I’d be able to get on a plane back.

On top of it all, international students remaining in their host country missed the hands-on experience with the culture and people with the widespread lockdowns. Students who managed to return home have to battle time zone differences while learning virtually, as well as dwindling motivation and a gradual disconnection with academia. The list of struggles march on.

On a personal note, I lost my job, a summer’s worth of income, and my 20-year-old optimism. It was indeed a tough year. But had that not happened, I wouldn’t have ended up here serving the Schmidthorst College of Business as one of Dean’s communications interns or had the opportunity to share my experiences. Admittedly, the short window that I worked here didn’t allow me to get to know my colleagues as much as I’d like. But it was enough to learn that the people in SCoB are friendly, helpful, and kind-hearted. I am beyond grateful to be able to work with everyone in SCoB.

The May Commencement is coming up, which means my remaining time in the US could be counted down by days- that is, if I’m lucky. The goodbye will be bittersweet, but I will never regret choosing BGSU for my college experience. If fate allows, perhaps our paths might cross again in a better future.

Updated: 04/14/2021 01:20PM