When IU announced that in-person classes would be suspended for two weeks following spring break, students prepared for what they believed would be a mere three-week hiatus from campus.
However, when President Michael McRobbie announced March 15 that IU would be extending its online classes through the end of the semester, international students began to panic. Students were unsure if they would be able to return to their home countries because of safety or financial reasons.
As of fall 2019, IU has a total of 7,710 international students enrolled on campuses across the state, according to the Office of International Students website.
Kahan Taraporevala, a sophomore majoring in music composition, is from Bombay, India. Before the coronavirus hit, he was planning to stay in Bloomington for the summer. When it was announced that all in-person classes would be suspended for the rest of the semester, he decided that he would go home in May to be with his family.
However, his home country has recently announced that all 1.3 billion residents will be mandated to go on national lockdown amid the COVID-19 crisis.
“I physically can’t go home,” Taraporevala said. “I do wish that I could be with my family with everything going on.”
The lockdown is scheduled to last until April 14. Taraporevala hopes that he will be able to travel in May, but for now feels lucky that he is safe in Bloomington.
"I feel very lucky that I'm here and not in somewhere like Italy where things are really bad," Taraporevala said.
Suspending campus activity is necessary to combat the spread of the virus, but it can also cause confusion and sadness.
Ludovic Mompelat, a Ph.D. student from Nantes, France double majoring in French and computational linguistics, said that it has been difficult to be so far away from his family during this time. He has been video chatting with his family more frequently than he normally would.
“Now that we are confined and quarantined, it makes the distance feel even bigger,” Mompelat said.
Mompelat teaches courses in the Department of French and Italian. He said that the visas for IU international student employees only allow them to work on campus. The department offers language classes online for the summer, but not every instructor will be hired to teach a course. This complicates the situation for students who cannot find work at the university.
“We are not able to work outside of IU,” Mompelat said. “If you're a student and you weren't offered a teaching job for the summer, the situation for international students is even more dire considering the financial difficulties."
Mompelat said that his rent situation has not changed, and he will still be paying it as usual.
Hojip Jeon, a junior majoring in advertising from Seoul, South Korea, said that he’s lucky that he lives off campus and decided to stay in Bloomington for time and safety reasons.
“My primary reason was that I didn’t want to be in an airport,” Jeon said. “That would be scarier.”
Off-campus students don’t face as many difficulties. Jeon said that he had no issues with his housing, and it is business as usual for him when it comes to paying rent.
Other resources for international students can be found on the Office of International Services website.