International Students Unable to Return to Campus


Conor McArdle

Students attend class outdoors to prevent the spread of covid-19 while their international counterparts dial in from Zoom.

Mike Yan '23, Junior Co-Editor-in-Chief

While 80% of the student body returned to the Peddie campus this spring, approximately half of the international student population did not come back for in-person instruction. Barriers to returning vary among these international students. Although vaccines have been developed and distributed across the U.S., concerns regarding COVID safety remain active and pervasive.

Since the COVID outbreak and the ensuing adoption of remote learning at Peddie, international students have faced unprecedented challenges. During the early stage of the pandemic, the United States government imposed travel restrictions on various countries across the globe, some of which are still in place today. For travelers from China, for instance, the U.S. mandates a 14-day quarantine in a third country before entering the U.S., followed by another 14-day quarantine after entry. Such extensive policies, though necessary for public health, amplify uncertainty and anxiety, which led many international students to avoid returning to Peddie. 

Having built emotional bonds with the community from past years, many international students have expressed a desire to return, but this has been tempered by practical concerns. “On one hand, it was the last term of my sophomore year, and expectations had been building up that spring term could finally be the time where I might be able to return. On the other hand, there were a lot of technical issues considering travel and/or visa restrictions and other risks that come along with the decision of returning to campus or not,” said Lisa Kogawa ’23, an international student living in Shanghai, China.

Students from Korea face fewer travel impediments, as the U.S. government has not placed restrictions on Korean travelers. Nevertheless, some Korean students have chosen to stay home due to health concerns. Yet this has left students learning remotely for over a year now. “Although I feel as though I’ve gotten used to remote learning, I definitely do feel somewhat missed out. Also, I feel online learning has some disadvantages when it comes to education. For instance, recently my biology class had a lab, and I couldn’t actively participate and felt a bit left out,” said Edward Fujiwara ’23. 

Fujiwara is not alone in lamenting the onerous struggles online learning presents. “I miss Peddie a lot because I haven’t been on campus for very long now. Also, it is pretty hard to connect with friends at Peddie due to the time difference,” said Richard Liang ’23, an international student from Hong Kong.

In a time that demands courage and commitment from international students to counter the taxing remote learning environment and heightened emotional burden, many remain hopeful. “Through difficult times like this, I find there to be an accumulating sense of hope for the year ahead in which I hope to return to campus as soon as possible and reconnect with those relationships established previously,” said Kogawa.