Rethinking Accepting Exchange Student Program Amid Pandemic

Becoming an exchange student has been one of my dreams for as long as I can remember. My older sister has done it; she stayed at the University of Cambridge for six months and told me how much fun she had. That made me realize that it was possible to fulfill my dream, so I studied a lot in hopes of getting into an exchange student program someday.

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When I received a letter from the same university last year, my heart started pounding like crazy. I applied to be a visiting student a year before that, so I thought that I would never get picked. But I reread the letter a gazillion times, and it said the same thing: I. Got. In.

My entire family was excited about this news. My sister called her old landlady at once and asked for an available room during spring, which was when I was supposed to go to the UK. Mom started looking for plane tickets, saying that it would be more affordable that way. On my part, I took more shifts at my part-time job and compiled all my requirements so that everything would be set when spring comes.

Unfortunately, the coronavirus came earlier than my travel date. The university offered to accommodate me during the fall season, which I am glad about. But my parents are not so on board anymore because:

rethinking-accepting-exchange-student-program-amid-pandemic
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Traveling May Be Unsafe

Since being an exchange student typically means going to a different school that’s hundreds or thousands of miles away from home, traveling is inevitable. You will need to ride a plane more often than not to reach your destination. If the new school is in the same country, you may be able to go by land.

Although traveling is exciting under normal circumstances, it is a little scary now that there is still a pandemic. After all, prominent universities mostly offer an exchange student program, and they are situated in densely populated cities. Unless you can travel at the speed of light, you will eventually have to go through checkpoints or immigrations and interact with people.

rethinking-accepting-exchange-student-program-amid-pandemic
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You Can’t Avoid Talking To Strangers A Lot

Considering you have never visited the city where the new university is, you may have no choice but to talk to strangers. It seems impossible for you to know which direction to go or where to find an establishment or office without asking someone for help. The latter is technically better than getting lost in a foreign place.

Despite the practicality of chatting with strangers when you don’t know a place, you must admit that the coronavirus outbreak makes it impractical. That is especially true if you and the stranger need to lean in to hear each other or discuss the map or instructions that you’re trying to follow. If you end up asking a helpful yet asymptomatic person, you may test positive for COVID-19.

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There Is No Vaccine For COVID-19 Yet

One reason why some people insist on traveling or going out is that they cannot fathom the severity of catching the coronavirus. In a little UK town where my aunt lives, for instance, most folks do not bother wearing a mask. If they see you with one, they may give you a weird look.

Even if you agree with those people, you don’t want to experience COVID-19 first-hand. Aside from its deadliness, there is no vaccine for it at the time of writing. You are lucky to be asymptomatic or deal with mild symptoms, but the virus may overpower your immune system, and your life will be hanging by a thread.

Final Thoughts

Getting invited for an exchange student program is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that no one should ever pass up. However, since the coronavirus is still lurking out there, you need to rethink your decision to move out of the house, albeit temporarily.

Good luck!

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