International student voices concerns

New COVID-19 restrictions put international students into a difficult position


Katie Fox

International students face housing troubles at Wake Forest University due to the inability to return home over winter break.

12:23, midnight. 

Lying awake on the bed of Best Western Plus University Inn, I couldn’t help but think about the new air travel policies for overseas students going back to China this May. 

Adding on to the 14 days of quarantine and seven days of health monitoring, the newly released policies require students to arrive seven days early at their departure location in America before boarding. They must also take a COVID-19 test within 48 hours of take-off.

International students, including Chinese students, were not able to go home during Winter Break. More accurately, it wasn’t worth it for us to go back home because of the long-lasting quarantine policies and the short span of winter break. 

However, the new policies released at the Chinese embassy on Jan. 4 added more fuel to the fire. The seven days pre-arrival requirement at the departure place makes leaving impossible for me and some of my friends who have bought plane tickets leaving in mid-May. 

I have often considered the idea of making and sending the Old Gold & Black a collection of how Chinese students spent their special winter break and New Year’s while stuck in America, but I hesitated. A large part of the hesitation stemmed from me asking myself these questions, “how can Chinese students represent the entire international student body?” and “how can you have such an unbalanced view when pursuing professional journalism?” 

I redefined my understanding of being marginalized after I spent more than four months in America. It’s about being fluent in English but not fully understanding reference jokes or social abbreviations in English, it’s about feeling welcomed but not belonging and it’s about sharing Chinese cultures without worrying about being taboo but wary of referring to politics. 

From the 2021 Atlanta spa shootings in Atlanta to the “Nowhere to go for Int’l students over break” article and the shooting death of a Chinese student of the University of Chicago, I see how fighting for rights is related to marginalized groups.

I do praise the power of student journalism, but what if our university just doesn’t approve the housing of international students? Are we forced to accept the fact and learn the lesson of resilience in such a way? 

If studying abroad was a way for us to try something new and push us to feel uncomfortable in many aspects, at least we learn how to challenge ourselves and will be ready to feel uncomfortable in the future.  

In many ways, we grasp resilience and grow in the way we overcome maladjustment. Instead of pushing down the rewind button and lingering on many hometown memories, try to embrace the nature and vibrance of life. 

Still not getting used to the “cold” foods and drinks here all around? Take note of how people greet each other warmly and stop wondering whether they are out of politeness or true heart.  

Always being the only international student on the class roster? How special! Your professor definitely remembers you right away!

Besides, even as ordinary people, we have the privilege of studying abroad. 

As people who have stood on a higher level, we had better not only bear in mind the steps we’ve stood upon but also remain grateful, empathetic and learn to surmount the vagaries of life. 

— Yushuo Wang

We are the ones who get the chance to sit in college classrooms, freely discuss and walk in the sun.

But do we get these because of our diligence or because we were lucky enough to be born into a financially well-off family? 

We get these because we take advantage of the steps toward new heights. 

As people who have stood on a higher level, we had better not only bear in mind the steps we’ve stood upon but also remain grateful, empathetic and learn to surmount the vagaries of life.