When the pandemic hit, everyone around the world including myself never expected it to last for more than a few weeks or months. As an international student, I was working part-time job along with juggling grad schoolwork. This one incident put my life on hold just as it did to others. When the domino effect strikes it, it takes you with it. I was laid off from my part-time and classes went online. I was forced to be at home in a foreign land, away from my friends and family. This started series of issues including anxiety, homesickness and fear. Fear of not being able to go back home soon or if I’d ever be able to go back. Also, the guilt of not being able to help the community when it needs the most added a layer of stress. Upon introspection and mindfulness, I realise, the only way to help others is to keep yourself sane. This pushed me to involve myself in many projects including helping community healthcare and public health agencies. I also found myself a community and met like-minded individuals at virtual group study sessions called “study-hubs.” I made friends that I would have never met before. I met students like me who wanted to work or study together from the comfort of their homes and not be lonely. Battling academic pressure amidst COVID-19 and feeling unsettled, made me find a home within myself. However, not all international students had the privilege to stay at home and worked front-line jobs. The fear of not being able to access healthcare made it worse.
My story is not different from hundreds of thousands of students who leave their comfort zone, their home country and fly to a foreign land to seek a better life, education and work opportunities. Things that kept me sane was finding a sense of community with my study group and believing that there is light at the end of this tunnel.
Home is with you and within you always.