Travel difficulties prevent international Chinese students from going home

By Liam Lin, Contributing Writer

An international student looks at the U.S. Embassy website for China and sighs. If they traveled to China, they would need to be quarantined for 21 days, too long to be worth the trip.

Quarantine periods, high ticket prices, COVID-19 risk and more prevent Chinese international students from traveling back home for break.

For Yoshi Qi, graduate student in LAS, China’s travel policies proved too strict for him to go back to his hometown.

“I think China has one of the strictest policies about travelers,” Qi said. “Once you land, you need to be quarantined in the city that you landed in for 14 days. Once you go back to your hometown, there will be another seven days (of being quarantined) or so, so it will all be very time consuming and the price of the ticket is still very expensive.”

Even for summer break, Zeying Xu, graduate student in FAA, said there wouldn’t be enough time to spend with family.

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    “Last summer, I had a summer course that lasted at least two months,” Xu said. “It would’ve been really hard for me if I finished my summer courses and flew back to China and quarantined 21 days since there would only be maybe two weeks for me to stay with my family.”

    In addition to quarantine periods, Shirley Li, junior in Business, considered the possibility of getting COVID-19.

    “If I truly get infected and I test positive, then I don’t even know where to find a doctor to take medicine or do anything like that,” Li said. “Also, I’m afraid that if I have to go to the hospital and am in a very serious situation, then the money spent on that would be a huge amount.”

    Xu also said she considered the risk of getting infected with COVID-19.

    “My grandmother, she is old, almost 80 years old, and I’m afraid that if I travel from the United States to China, I might bring something to her,” Xu said.

    Xu was also not able to get her student visa, which made possible travel to China difficult.

    “It was really hard for me to go back to China in past years because I was not able to get the F1 visa, which is the student visa, because the embassy here was closed for almost 10 months,” Xu said.

    When the pandemic first broke out, Qi initially had a hard time maintaining friendships.

    “I lost like half, if not more of my friends who were transfer students since they either came back to their country or they ended their program earlier than scheduled,” Qi said. “So just like that, my friendship was gone all of the sudden.”

    Li has been staying connected with her friends through social media.

    “Mostly, I just see my friends update something on WeChat like they created a post, took a picture or they said ‘OK, I’m not feeling very good today because something happened,’” Li said. “Then, I would just reach out to them directly to see what’s happening in her life and what she’s preparing for the next day or something like that.”

    In addition to her friends, Li regularly connects with her family through video chat.

    “I definitely have a very close relationship with them — we usually have a conversation through video every week,” Li said. “So that’s a good update for them and for me, since I will know what they did in the past week. And if I have an emergency, like my apartment got burned, I could just talk with them quickly and directly.”

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