COVID-19: Navigating Sheltering in Place

May 8, 2020

Navigating “Sheltering in Place” as an International Student

By Yasser Omar Abdellatif
Master of Public Health in Global Health, Brown School of Social Work
Mentee, Global Health Center Mentoring Program, Institute for Public Health

Making it through the unprecedented circumstances of COVID-19 is challenging. There is a lot of uncertainty around the situation. No one, literally no one, knows when this will all end. This is not easy for everyone around the world. Even our politicians and policymakers are just as lost as all of us. Everyone has been impacted to a certain extent. Some people lost their lives, some lost their loved ones, some lost their jobs or money, and almost everyone’s well-being has been impacted. ,

International students in particular, struggle with an additional layer of fear and anxiety. We live half of a planet away from our families, friends, and almost everyone we know. We cannot go back now, and seemingly not anytime soon, because international flights are suspended. Every day, we have to deal with our own safety, well being, daily tasks, classes, assignments, loneliness, and homesickness, in addition to making sure that our family is doing well and staying safe. Given the daily increases in the number of COVID-19 cases, we also have to handle our families’ worries about us. The other day, I accidentally sneezed while talking to my mom. She got worried and called me three times that day to see if I was OK!

I am sure these extraordinary, challenging times will all pass, however, some of the related impacts could remain. Among all of this, we should take care of our own well being and mental health but one way does not fit all. People have different coping mechanisms. At such times, we should, as a community, come together and support each other. We cannot take care of our families, friends or neighbors if we do not look after our own psychological and physical stability first. Hang in there, my friends. We will make it through!