Many Indians who travelled overseas for higher studies with the hope of better job prospects are now staring in the dark because of the coronavirus crisis.
Unable to return home, Indian students are confined to their apartments and dorms, independently confronting adversity in a foreign land away from their families.
Students like me are not only following safety precautions but are also keeping a close eye on the news about their homeland and regularly checking in on their families. It is very nerve-racking. Honestly, this adds to the already looming questions which consume the minds of young students.
Official support and finances
Given the trying circumstances, visa extensions, return to India, and testing facilities for Indian students quarantined abroad are some of the questions which remain unanswered even at the consulate level. This ripple effect of a lack of information thereof needs to be tackled from a centralised source. Perhaps, in a sandbox environment and with the 7.5 lakh Indian students studying outside India.
Jerrin, a student at the University of Melbourne, Australia, says that even though the government is taking measures to support the student community, he is worried about whether the provisions would be extended to international students as well.
Indian students face numerous challenges adjusting in a foreign land as they have to take care of their finances and mental health. They engage in part-time jobs to help even out the financial load on their families. But with several restrictions, job loss, indefinite interview postponement and hiring freeze – how will the students manage their livelihood?
“Job loss after graduating from a Canadian University was a shock, which employment insurance and personal savings help me get past. I’m grateful for the rent support scheme offered by the Canadian government,” said a student, on the condition of anonymity.
EBS Universität für Wirtschaft und Recht, Germany offers counsellors and contacts of qualified mental health specialists who have made themselves available to international students.
It’s a commendable initiative on part of the university but some students find solace talking to their family members. For instance, Aruna, who is self-isolating in her dorm at the University of Oslo, Norway, says, “Love and support from friends and family keep me motivated and not succumb to the effects of isolating myself. I concur with her. Over several conversations with other students, I feel having to distance themselves from their local friends – who are now family – and being away from families back in India; have made them extremely anxious and depressed.
For graduate students such as myself, these unprecedented times pose an imminent debate as recruiters state COVID-19 as an influential cause of ambiguity in their hiring process. Consequently, leaving students puzzled, contributing to the rising levels of anxiety among well-qualified students who struggle to decipher what the future holds. We are restless thinking what this could potentially ripple into.
Does this mean, all those years of effort and time put towards making that vision board was all for nothing? Times like these make it difficult to hide the soreness and anxiety.
My family back in India is safe and healthy – and living miles away from them will never surpass any difficult decision I will have to make in the future. To those like me who are in a similar situation, here’s a reminder that you are not alone in this. Eat well, stay healthy and don’t let the uncertainty dawn upon you.
I would like to request the reader to continually check in on those who are living away from their families and loved ones.
Finally, I leave you with two questions to ponder over, with more than 700 inbound international flights cancelled, is there an end to the repatriation debate for Indian students abroad? And should colossal Indian businesses globally provide graduate opportunities for Indian students abroad?
Varun Thomas is a student at EBS Universität für Wirtschaft und Recht, Germany
Featured image credit: Reuters