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International students face unique challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic

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CEDAR FALLS, (KWWL) - College students across the nation have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, but international students have had to overcome situations many don't even think of.

Families are sometimes thousands of miles away from their children, when they study internationally. The pandemic posed particular situations that students could have never dreamed of.

One University of Northern Iowa international student shared her experiences with KWWL, saying her time at school during the pandemic was especially difficult for her family when she contracted COVID-19.

"The most terrifying was for our families because we would have to call them, and tell them that we’re sick, and we have it. And for them to kind of not be able to do any thing because they are in a different country," UNI Senior Aashita Vadhera said.

Many international students have dealt with immigration rules, loss of income, and travel restrictions. Unsure if they would be able to travel home to their family, many were left to support themselves.

Along with having to find a place to live following the closing of the dorms, many also needed to find jobs. The University of Northern Iowa did provide international Students with some financial support for housing assistance.

Vadhera says she hadn't been home in about 2 years. The pandemic making that stay in the U.S. even longer.

"It’s a lot easier to kind of ignore that factor, to you know put it in the back of your mind when you have classes, you have clubs, you have everything like that, but because I didn’t have all of that it was just like you were hit by the fact that you were like all alone in a way," she said.

She has since been able to travel back home to India, after providing negative COVID results.

The isolation of students at universities across the nation, during the pandemic, has also affected the mental health of students.

"I didn’t realize how much I needed human interaction or how much it was important to you know just walk be able to walk around campus and go to your classes and see your classmates even if you weren’t the best of friends or you didn’t you know hang out 24/7," Vadhera said.

UNI allows international students to complete virtual classes from their home countries. The school has about 350 students, representing 39 different countries.

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Diego Hernandez

Multimedia Journalist

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