International students face hardships during COVID-19

Amber Brouwer

About a year ago I got the letter in the mail. The letter told me that I was accepted to Pace University. As a girl from this tiny country in Europe I couldn’t believe it. I got all my forms ready and set to go. I was already in the US as an Au Pair, so I booked my trip back to my home country, to change my visa to officially become a student. Not much later I turned on the news and there it was, “a new virus has been discovered in Wuhan, China.” How the rest of that story goes, I think we all know.

My name is Amber Brouwer, I am a 20-year-old freshman Psychology major. I am an international student from The Netherlands. I think I’m not alone when I say that we all thought things were going to go back to normal after a few months, but then the travel bans came. I had not applied to any schools in my home country, so my only option was to somehow find a way to start my studies here in the United States.

I found a way to legally stay, but as an international student, you are in the country on student status. This status allows you to do internships and work off-campus when the job is related to your studies. You can only do this when you have studied for two consecutive semesters on campus. Internships, as many of you will know, are important. Not only to get experience but also to make some money while here in the US. Many of us are losing our student status and thus the right to intern in the US or even worse they have to take a leave of absence.

Audille Bardon is another international student here at Pace. She started her studies, just like me last fall. She chose a different way to obtain her visa, but unfortunately, she didn’t get the approval in time. This means that for her, the chance to intern and work is delayed even more. This is a stressful situation. With her 26 years of age, she’d love to start experiencing the real working world, but COVID is preventing her from that.

My story ends well, and I’m happy to say that with some creativity and very last minute planning I was able to get back to the US in time for the spring semester. But many other international students are stuck at home, trying to follow classes with the sometimes 12 hours in time difference. This affects grades, participation, and being able to really become involved on campus. Being a student during COVID, whether you’re international or not, is hard. That’s why it’s is important for us all to stay as involved as we can in our Pace Community.