Wednesday, January 19, 2022
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Trapped and Far from Home

With classes cancelled and travel restrictions in place, thousands of them are stranded in campuses, dorms or airports around the world. One of them, Varun Thomas in Germany, sends us this report

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For those of us from India who travelled abroad for pursuing graduate studies in the hopes of better job prospects, things seem to have backfired during this pandemic attack. Unable to now return home, these students are now confronting the adversity in a foreign land away from the safety and solace of family for their immediate support.

Students like me in isolation must abide by the restrictions in our respective countries and keep a close eye on the news about our homeland and families that we are so anxious about. This only adds to the uncertainty in the minds of many young students.

Given the trying circumstances, what does this mean for those in need of visa extensions? When would the gates back into India be open again? Where does one go to seek support? Are there across the board testing facilities for Indian students quarantined abroad? The Indian consulate in Germany, where I am pursuing my studies, has limited information online to offer in this regard. This ripple effect of a lack of information thereof needs to be tackled from a centralised source.

Students face many challenges in a foreign land, not the least of which is the financial angle. They engage in part-time jobs to help soften some of the burden on their families. But with the current restrictions, job loss and hiring freeze, how do students manage their livelihood?

One student, who doesn’t want to be named, says: “Job loss after graduating from a Canadian university was a shock. But I’m glad for the employment insurance and personal savings which help me get by. I’m grateful for the rent support scheme offered by the Canadian government.” But not all are so lucky.

EBS Universität für Wirtschaft und Recht, Germany, where I study, offers counsellors and contacts of qualified mental health specialists who have made themselves available to international students. Recognising the challenges that many international students face is a commendable action taken by the university. But for graduate students such as myself, the future—in the short and the long term—remains hazy as recruiters state that the coronavirus has now become an influential cause in their hiring process. This, in turn, has left students puzzled, besides contributing to the rising levels of anxiety among well-qualified students who simply cannot begin their professional careers. “This uncertainty triggering anxiety remains a primary source of burn-out among students,” says a counsellor.

The reasons for the anxiety can primarily be divided into two:

  • How do I support myself emotionally in times like these?
  • What do I do next?

Given the unprecedented times we are now going through, students like me are struggling to decipher what the future is going to be like. We are restless, unable to fathom what all this means for our future. Does this mean, all those years of effort and time put towards making that vision was all for nothing? Questions, questions, but as of now, answers are elusive.

—The writer is a student at EBS Universität für Wirtschaft und Recht, Germany

Lead picture: thenewsminute.com

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