In the past year, Kaylee has been thinking about whether now is a suitable time to study abroad. Until the Spring Festival this year, when she heard that her classmate studying abroad was diagnosed with the new coronavirus positive, she suddenly realized that studying abroad is not the best choice. It is a better choice to stay in the home country than to take such a significant risk to study overseas.
A week has passed since the United States lifted restrictions on Chinese students going to the United States.
On April 26, local time, the U.S. State Department issued a statement announcing that the U.S. will lift restrictions on Chinese students going to the U.S. From August 1, 2021, students from China with a valid F1 or M1 visa can fly directly to the U.S. from their home country. No need to transit or stay in a third country for 14 days.
The new policy to lift restrictions on travel to the United States has just been promulgated. The visa center in Guangzhou issued a small number of in-person visa interview slots on April 27. In addition to China, removing F/M visa travel restrictions includes Iran, Brazil, South Africa, the Schengen Area, the United Kingdom, and Ireland.
In December 2020, Minister of Education Chen Baosheng delivered a speech at the International Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Education, emphasizing the openness of education.
Chen Baosheng said that the impact of the epidemic on studying abroad is temporary, and the epidemic will eventually pass. China’s education must be open to the world, unswervingly persist in opening education to the outside world, continuously strengthen exchanges and cooperation with countries around the world and international organizations such as UNESCO, encourage studying abroad, improve policies and services related to studying abroad, and actively introduce high-quality educational resources.
Since last year, under the multiple pressures of the new crown epidemic, Asian discrimination, and Sino-US competition, the Chinese student population has faced unprecedented challenges. Three Chinese students shared their different stories about studying abroad under the epidemic. Some insisted on studying abroad, while others chose to give up.
Yuky Shen, 24 years old, an international student in the United States
“Due to the epidemic forced to postpone graduation time.”
Yuky Shen is a second-year graduate student of the American Film Academy’s Department of Production. He is currently preparing for his graduation work in Los Angeles, USA. Due to the impact of the epidemic, Yuky’s graduation time has been extended. She was able to hand in her graduation work around August this year, but now she can’t finish shooting until December.
Before the epidemic, Yuky was still struggling with his employment plans after graduation. After experiencing the pandemic in the United States, Yuky’s belief in returning to China became very firm. She believes that living in the United States cannot bring herself a sense of security. Moreover, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “at first said that wearing masks was useless, and then let everyone wear masks” behavior also made Yuky question the credibility of the US government.
Since the outbreak in the United States in March last year, Yuky has stopped going out and will only go to the supermarket once a week. On March 13 last year, the day the United States declared a national emergency, Yuky rushed to the supermarket to shop and stock up. Since she had never experienced such a national emergency, she had no experience when purchasing. She didn’t buy enough amount on many items, and she never thought that she should have stocked toilet paper. After that, there was a shortage of toilet paper in American supermarkets, which caused her a headache.
The monotonous life of the quarantine made Yuky feel very depressed. Someone in the apartment building was infected with the covid-19 virus, and the building issued a warning to all residents. “At that time, I felt that the virus was very close to me. I was very anxious every day and wanted to return to China as soon as possible.” Yuky said.
In the second half of 2020, the epidemic situation in the United States became more serious, and Yuky’s school decided to start teaching in the form of online courses. To ensure his own safety and to ensure that his studies will not be interrupted, Yuky bought a ticket to return to China in September, took a direct flight from Los Angeles to Xiamen, and returned to his hometown of Shanghai after being quarantined for 14 days. After returning to China, Yuky saw that all major stores were operating normally, business was booming, and people were all in order, consciously maintaining social distancing. Yuky is very grateful for his decision to return to China.
Like countless classmates who took online classes in China, Yuky also experienced a time when he got up in the middle of the night to go to class. Although the school has specially arranged a particular study time for students in the Asia-Pacific region, as far as possible to avoid overwork due to jet lag, the long-term work and rest of the day and night have a greater impact on Yuky’s body, mental fatigue, and difficulty in focusing. The situation lasted for three months. Because of this situation and taking into account the particularity of the profession and the need for on-site shooting, Yuky finally decided to return to the United States to continue his study in the new year.
At that time, per the U.S. epidemic prevention policy, Chinese citizens traveling to the U.S. had to transit/stay in a third country for 14 days. After consideration, Yuky chose to enter the United States via Singapore. On December 25, 2020, Yuky flew to Singapore and stayed in a local hotel. Although forced to stay in Singapore for 14 days and pay extra expenses, Yuky still faces this experience with a positive and optimistic attitude. During the 14 days of stay, Yuky visited all the major attractions in Singapore as an extra “tour.”
However, it is difficult to say whether other students would treat the transfer in a third country with such ease as Yuky. Since the epidemic in the United States has not completely subsided, the situation is chaotic, and the future development is unclear. Many students around Yuky are hesitating whether to return to the United States to continue their studies.
Ian Song, 22 years old, plans to study in the United States
“U.S. policy once made me want to give up the Ivy League offer.”
22-year-old Ian Song, studying economics at McGill University in Canada, has just completed the last final exam of undergraduate two days ago. He is a prospective graduate and is currently planning to study in the United States for a master’s degree.
Since the epidemic, there have been some negative comments about international students on the Internet, which made Ian doubt whether his studying abroad was correct.
However, Ian did not regret his choice in the end. He believes that studying abroad has allowed him to see the excitement of the world and learn about different civilizations and cultural thinking. Regarding the current unfavorable environment, such as increased discrimination against Asians in the United States and tensions in Sino-US relations, he said: “I think I may run into walls everywhere in the future, but I will be prepared.”
For the past year, Ian is very emotional because from the second semester of the junior year to the end of the senior year, he has been completing nearly half of his post-university studies in the form of online courses.
In March last year, the number of cases of the new crown epidemic began to surge in North America. At that time, Ian was in Montreal, Canada. Although he was worried, he saw that China had dealt with the epidemic promptly and felt that the same would happen abroad. The epidemic passed within a month or two. However, the development of the situation was unexpected. At the end of March, the Civil Aviation Administration of China began to adjust international flights, drastically reducing direct flights to North America. It was challenging to find a return ticket.
In Montreal, Ian regularly goes to the supermarket to buy food and daily necessities and sometimes walks downstairs wearing a mask. He is usually used to take a taxi to the supermarket, and during the epidemic, he will choose to go back and forth on foot.
At the end of April 2020, the North American epidemic was gradually out of control, and Ian bought a ticket from Toronto to Shanghai at a high price. After returning home, the days began to become full of hope. Ian continued his senior year online courses in Dongyang, Zhejiang, hometown while preparing for the U.S. graduate entrance exam. Parents also support the goal of continuing to study and study.
For this year’s study abroad application season, Ian described it as “feeling like a battle for one person.” Usually, he would choose to prepare papers at home alone or study in a nearby coffee shop. Although leisurely, he still missed the time spent researching and struggling in the library with his classmates.
After the application was submitted, Ian received offers from many world-renowned universities such as Columbia University, Cornell University, and Cambridge University in the United States, “Ivy League University.” The biggest challenge in the application is that the number of admissions this year has been reduced compared with previous years. Many students who received offers last year chose to postpone enrollment because of the epidemic, so they accounted for many enrollment quotas for this year. Ian understands this and thinks that he only needs to work harder and doesn’t care about the results of others.
Ian told reporters that for students applying for top schools, many people have worked hard for this for many years and will not give up quickly due to difficulties such as the epidemic.
Among the offers from many prestigious schools, Ian is most fond of Columbia University in the United States, which was the first time he visited a foreign university abroad. Due to the difficulties of China going to the United States before, Ian was still hesitating whether to abandon Columbia University and accept an offer from Cambridge University in the United Kingdom until last week. After learning that the United States had lifted the restrictions on traveling to the United States, Ian was very surprised. He immediately took the time to apply for a series of documents to prepare for studying in the United States. After graduation, he hopes to return to China and contribute his strength to the construction of the motherland.
Kaylee Zhang, 23, canceled the plan to study abroad
“High-risk, online courses, the cost-effectiveness of studying abroad is too low.”
Kaylee Zhang is an undergraduate student who graduated last year. He originally planned to go to the London University of the Arts for postgraduate studies in the fall of 2020. Due to the epidemic, Kaylee has repeatedly postponed her study abroad plan and has now given up on going abroad and decided to work in China.
The plan to study abroad was finally canceled. Kaylee had a little regret, but he also expressed no regrets. She said she wanted to go overseas because she wanted to see a bigger world and have more life experience. But the premise of these experiences must be safe and relatively accessible. At the same time, she does not want her parents to be afraid of her safety.
In February last year, Kaylee received a postgraduate offer from her favorite school, the University of the Arts London, and was very excited. At that time, the domestic epidemic had just begun to break out. Although Kaylee was also nervous about the sudden epidemic, he did not anticipate that it would affect his study abroad.
As the epidemic intensified, no country was spared. British schools have notified that all online teaching will be implemented, and her students studying abroad have returned home. She saw that they were looking for expensive air tickets under the flight restriction order but hard to find a ticket. They risked being infected on the flight back home. After returning home, they had to undergo numerous nucleic acid checks and several days of quarantine. For studying abroad, She hesitated.
Some of Kaylee’s students studying abroad stayed in China to take online classes throughout the course, and some chose to study abroad at the beginning of this year, but they also took online classes in the past. In Kaylee’s view, these choices are too low cost and risk factor too high. So she applied for postponed admission to study related courses at home. But there is only one chance to delay admission. She must start graduate study in the fall of 2021. Otherwise, she will need to reapply.
When inquiring about the study experience of students with the same major who had already gone abroad, the classmates told her helplessly that the students were unable to communicate with classmates and teachers offline during the whole course of the class, and the experience level dropped a lot. At the same time, visiting museums, art galleries, and cinemas, conducting social practice in the local area, or going to a company for internships are all difficult to achieve.
For the next teaching model, the school stated that it plans to start all offline teaching in the fall of 2021, but if the epidemic repeats, it is possible to combine online and offline teaching or fully online teaching.
In the past year, Kaylee has been thinking about whether now is a suitable time to study abroad. Until the Spring Festival this year, when she heard that her classmate studying abroad was diagnosed with the new coronavirus positive, she suddenly realized that studying abroad is not the best choice. It is more correct to stay in the country to study and exercise than to take such a big risk to study abroad. Today, she has canceled her study abroad plan and has worked in China, directly improving her abilities through professional practice in the industry.
Author: Peng An