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Mental Health

Mia Sugarman: An International Student’s Insight Into the Pandemic

Mia Sugarman, an international student from London, is a Nutrition Sciences major here at Boston University, with a track in dietetics and a minor in psychology. As an international student, she has had a difficult time adjusting to college life in America while her family is back home. When the pandemic started, it only made things more difficult. Here’s what she had to say about her experience.

Q: How have Covid-19 restrictions affected your ability to go home and come to BU?

A: I was able to go home at Christmas, but it has been difficult to go home when I want. We were supposed to go away at Christmas, but because of new Covid-19 restrictions, my family could not meet me. They also can’t get to the U.S. when they want to, and if I go home, I have to quarantine.

Q: How has your college experience as an international student changed due to the pandemic?

A: I don’t know if it has changed specifically because I am an international student other than in similar ways it has affected others. It has been perhaps more difficult to create the connections I would like to for internships, which has made it harder to get jobs with my visa.

airplanes window view of sky during golden hour
Photo by Eva Darron from Unsplash

Q: Is it harder to connect with family now? Why or why not?

A: The time difference of five hours makes it difficult sometimes. Particularly at the moment, since I am Jewish and it is Passover. I couldn’t speak to my family during the evening (their time) because they were not using electricity during Passover.

Q: What has been the hardest part about the pandemic for you?

A: Covid-19 has actually been positive in many ways. It has given me time to reflect and figure out what is most important to me and to focus on building stronger relationships. I have learned a lot about myself and grown to get to know myself more. Recently, it has become more challenging having to constantly motivate myself and try to form connections from my room. I also worry constantly about my family getting sick because lots of my family members have actually had operations and health scares—not Covid-19 related, but it becomes more of a concern when they need to go to the hospital. But, I would say the hardest part has been not being able to see my grandparents. I am very close to them and we love to go traveling together, but I haven’t seen them in person since August even though we were in the same county in December. Also, not going home for Passover was difficult. I really missed my family since we usually all get together to celebrate.

Working on a laptop
Photo by Startup Stock Photos from Pexels

Q: What do you wish BU had done differently when it comes to international students, if anything?

A: I wish BU would create more opportunities for international students to connect with professors and find work because building connections is a large part of why people come to college. I also wish they would be more accommodating with summer housing and perhaps reduce costs for students who can’t go home so easily. Overall though, I think BU has been very accommodating, and the online recordings are good for students in different time zones. However, I do not know how it will work next year if they are planning to be all in person for students who can’t come back. I hope they will still be able to pursue their degrees.

Even though things will begin to go back to normal in the fall (hopefully), international students might find it difficult to readjust to in-person learning. As Mia has said, hopefully, schools will be able to give international students the resources they need.

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Hi! My name is Isabelle Durso, and I am a sophomore at Boston University studying Journalism and Film & TV at the College of Communication! I am so excited to be a part of this amazing, empowering community of young women.
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