In this blog post you will read how the global pandemic caused by COVID-19 has impacted our students’s lives and their home countries.
Luyao from China:
Hello everyone! My name is Luyao Wang and I am an international student from China. When the pandemic first started in China, I was very worried about my family and friends back in China. Since my hometown was not among one of the most impacted ones by Covid-19, most of my family and friends did not experience a huge impact. However, since my father is a doctor, he was afraid of getting in contact with and potentially bringing the virus home. Therefore, my parents started to use separate tableware. My father also started to sleep in a separate room by himself in order to decrease the potential possibility of bringing back the virus.
Fortunately, my family and my friends are staying safe and healthy so far. Nowadays, the situation in China is gradually getting under control. I started to see my friends and family going out to meet each other with their masks on. I believe the same hope is waiting for us in the near future here in the US. I personally followed the stay-home order since my last final exam last term. Since then, I have been staying at home all the time except going for groceries once a week and sometimes jogging in my neighborhood. There are usually two to three people either also jogging or taking a walk in the neighborhood. We always keep our social distance when we see each other.
Although staying at home was not very hard for me considering I usually spend my days at home before the pandemic, this pandemic did bring me a lot of anxiety. Since the beginning of January, I have been following the news and checking the real-time data of test positive case numbers in China. Then when the US. Starting to have more and more test-positive cases, I included checking the data and news for the US. as well. It started fine and kept me informed every day. However, later on, I began to feel overwhelmed by the news and data. I felt depressed by the situation and how many people suffer from this pandemic. The negative emotions finally started to affect my daily routine.
As a psychology student, I know this was not a good sign. Therefore, I decided to decrease the number of times to check the news and data. I decided to refocus on the tasks on my hand such as cooking three meals every day, finishing my homework on time, starting to learn digital drawing and connect with my friends and family from time to time. After a few days, I started to get back to my normal pace. Then I found that there are a lot of people who had the same experience as me. They feel overwhelmed and this situation is called “compassion fatigue”. It mostly happens to people who work closely to help others, such as doctors, nurses, child protection workers, teachers etc. However, with the development of the internet, more and more tragedies are broadcasted and accessible to people. Therefore, people who do not work closely with people who suffer can experience compassion fatigue as well.
The symptoms can include numbness, helplessness, lowered concentration, lack of self-satisfaction, insomnia, and so on. People can run out of their compassion by absorbing too much tragic news, and then they may feel numb or hopeless. What was helpful for me was to limit the time spending on checking the news and data. So if you are also experiencing some of the symptoms, maybe taking some break can help:)
Ayano from Japan:
Hello, everyone! My name is Ayano, and I am from Japan. I hope you are staying healthy and safe at home while reading this. I hope not to practice emotional distance with your friends, loved ones, and your family. For me, I use this time as a great opportunity to reconnect with my friends who haven’t talked a while. My friends in Japan have already graduated from college since their academic year ended in March, and they will enter the workforce for their first time during this uncertain time. Some of my friends need to go to work instead of working from home, including non-essential workers, and some need to wait the day to start working at home while the other friends start work remotely. I heard there are not many companies that adjust to the new working style, working remotely. Also, quarantine helps to talk to my family more often. I try to call my mother every day. We mostly talk about how our day during quarantine is going, how the rest of the family in Japan is doing, and the TV show we both watch on Netflix. Today, I will introduce one of the beloved holidays in Japan, called Golden Week, happening last week. Under the current situation of Covid-19, this year has seen a lot of changes in the holiday. I will talk about how people spend time during the holiday as people adjust to a new lifestyle.
In Japan, the month of May is important. It is a resting point from work and school because we have a big holiday called “Golden Week.” Golden Week consists of five different holidays and days in between, which are treated as holidays as well. If you are a student in Japan, you will check the calendar every year and count how many days you have off from school in Golden Week. Some companies and most service industries open their businesses, so adults may not be excited as much as children are. The holidays are a total five; Showa Day, named after Emperor Showa on April 29th, Constitution Day on May 3rd, Greenery Day on May 4th, Children’s Day on May 5th, the substitute day for Constitution Day on May 6th. Japanese people usually celebrate Childrens’ Day on the 5th if households have a child. Children’s day is a day that the family wishes for their children’s’ health and happiness. The family who has a son decorate a flag which shaped as carps and an armor doll since Children’s day is known for “Tango no Seku,” which is the day for celebrating sons’ success and health. (In Japan, we also have “Momo no Seku” in March, which is the same concepts, but for daughters.)
Besides that, Golden Week is a long holiday for enjoying day-offs. Many choose to travel within the country or outside of the country. Restaurants and stores are open, so those who work in service industries go to work, and it is one of the busiest times of the year for them. This year, things are different. Many restaurants in Japan lost their customers compared to last year’s Golden Week, but many of them remain open. The Japanese government declared the state of emergency at the beginning of April and valid until May 6th, but now it is extended to the end of May. However, The state of emergency didn’t let the restaurants and stores shut down, but recommended because of the legal binding force Japanese law has. Also, it depends on the prefecture (similar to the U.S. State system), the decisions for operating business and schools are made differently.
Same as in the U.S., more people start to bake at home. Many grocery stores are out of flour and pancake mix, and other baking materials. Those are now seen on online flea markets such as Mercari to sell at high prices. Speaking of short on something, Nintendo Switch is also currently experiencing. Stores have difficulty in stock because of the challenge in production and distribution Nintendo is facing. Animal Crossing is the number one sold game according to Amazon Japan and Rakuten marketplace as of May 4th. People start to adjust to a new lifestyle by entertaining themselves during Golden Week in Japan. I will continue to watch how my country goes through and adapt to online schooling and meetings. I hope things next year will be getting better and enjoy the weather of spring.
Nuno from Netherlands:
As an international student, it was difficult to watch the news about COVID-19 from back home while studying on the other side of the world. I am from the Netherlands, a small country in Northern Europe. Before I applied to PSU, I would have never thought anything like this would happen while studying abroad, but so did anyone else.
I work as a student coordinator for PSU Campus Rec, which closed mid-March until further notice. Due to visa restrictions, I am not able to work off-campus, and it was difficult to find other work at PSU since other departments closed as well. Now I can do some remote work, but I have a lot more free time now that I do not work 20 hours per week. Also, not having to commute two hours to Campus back and forth makes that I have a lot of extra time every day. While in the beginning, I might found myself being bored, this is no longer the case because of all the homework that I need to do for my classes this term. I have also been able to pick up on some hobbies such as cooking, going on long walks with my dog, and reading. Every day I try to watch the Dutch news as well as calling my grandparents and other family members. I love watching videos from the YouTube channel of the magazine “Bon Appetit”.
After the cases in the Netherlands started to rise, the Netherlands decided to go for an “intelligent lockdown,” which got lots of criticism from other European countries that went into a complete lockdown. Schools, restaurants, movie theaters, and bars had to close while shops, grocery stores, and some markets could stay open. My country wanted to cushion the social, economic, and psychological costs of social isolation and make the eventual return to “normal” more manageable. The Dutch were advised to stay at home. Still, you can go out if you are unable to work from home or have to grab groceries or fresh air, as long as you maintain 1.5m (5ft) social distance, it is quite similar to what Oregon is doing I would stay.
Every year on April 27th, we celebrate the King of the Netherlands’ birthday. In previous years you would see people dressed up in orange (our national color) everywhere you would go in the country. This year due to the restrictions on how many people can gather, it looked a bit different.
Still, the Dutch were able to throw a party, but now at a safe social distance in their backyard, in the street, they live in or inside, and of course, they were all dressed up in orange. Even the King decided to join Zoom, and he and his family made video calls to several citizens in the Netherlands to wish them a “happy Kingsday.” Many people wanted to do something for the elderly. They took the initiative to deliver these special King day pastries, called “tompouce” to the elderly that are forced to stay inside so they too could enjoy this national holiday. While it might look a bit different this year, the Dutch used their creativity to celebrate our national holiday together.