Student admitted COVID-19 trapped at university ‘felt like I was locked in so far away’

4 March 2021

The pandemic has been difficult for us all. Not being able to see our loved ones, feeling trapped in our homes, having to learn how to navigate this strange new world.

Things have been particularly difficult for students, as support levels have varied between universities, on top of mental health problems, financial difficulties and altered assignments.

Add to this not being able to go home and being stranded in a different country to your loved ones, one starts to understand the struggles of the international students who have not been home since before the first national lockdown.

Samantha Snow Gonzalez

Sheffield student Samantha Snow Gonzalez from Somerville, New Jersey hasn’t been home since Christmas 2019 and has struggled not being able to see her family in so long.

She said: “There is a five-hour time difference between me and home and so I’m limited in term of when I can even speak to my family members and that kind of stuff.”

She and others in her position have felt a level of isolation different to what it would be like in their home countries.

Gonzalez also said: “I’ve said that before lockdown started it was a choice being here and now I no longer had that choice because I was locked down over miles away. As soon as that choice wasn’t available to me it became a little bit more scary it felt like I was locked away so far away.”

Another Sheffield student, Yaroslav Matveev, of Moscow, Russia has spoken about how the pandemic has affected his mental health, with what he feels is little support from his university.

Yaroslav Matveev

He said: “Pressure of studying, managing chores and constant lockdown changes made me feel very stressed and anxious.

“I also find it quite difficult to manage my health on my own. The University Health Service doesn’t help with that feeling either.”

There is a light at the end of the tunnel, however, with the plan to have restrictions lifted in the UK on 21 June, with some saying it is too soon and others are thrilled.

Mr Matveev said: “I feel cautiously optimistic – there is hope. But knowing how the government handled the pandemic and lockdowns before, you can’t be sure about anything.”

Written by Samira Ahmed

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