College closure: An international perspective

By Gatien Delaunay

The word “Coronavirus” is on everyone’s lips and is now affecting our daily lives. People are calling their families and starting to pack. By Friday, Mar. 20, most Loras students will be back home trying to stay away from the COVID-19. However, not all of them will have the opportunity to do so.

Loras College is also the home for several international students, and some of them come from far away countries such as Colombia, Brazil, Ghana, and France. They are unable to go back home.

I am not writing this article as a feature writer and columnist for the Lorian but as one of the international students who will have to stay on campus for an undetermined period. It isn’t very easy to make sense of what is happening right now, it is simply too early.

Upon hearing this announcement, both emotions and questions follow one another. Will this situation last until the end of the semester? Will we be able to stay on campus until then or be obliged to go back home?

Students remaining on campus will have to move to Binz Hall and agree to not leave the Dubuque area. This is the deal we were given and I feel angry and sad to have to cope with it so far away from my friends and family. However, I understand the situation and accept it because the main reason Europe is struggling so much is because this threat was taken lightly.

Given how fast the virus spreads, every day counts, and making a decision even one week late can have terrible consequences. Now some countries in Europe are paying the price. In my home country, France, time seems to have stopped and inhabitants will be in confinement. Making this kind of decision before the virus arrived would have been the best way to prevent it — or at least reduce its impact. My main concern is to know if I would have to go back to France, which is unideal given their current situation, and I don’t know if I will be able to come back to the U.S. after that. Two months away from graduation, the seniors – including myself – are heavily concerned.

“It is something that has no precedents in the history of human kind,” said senior Jorge Ramirez, an exchange student from Colombia. “We are talking about a virus that is affecting literally every single person on earth. The younger generations will come out of this stronger, and everything will be put in place again.”

“As an international student, you always worry about your family members who are nowhere near you, but it is important to pray for their well-being and hope everything is over quick. Mentally, we all need to be stronger in times like this. I’m very sad my senior year had to end like this,” Ramirez concluded.

He and his current roommates will be renting an Airbnb in Galena for a month, waiting to find out if Loras College is closing for the semester. Juniors Juan Arias and Juan Caicedo, also students from Colombia, expressed their concerns about staying at Binz Hall. They both currently live in LMAC, and even though they appreciate the offer made to international students to stay on campus, they don’t understand why they would have to move to Binz, where there is only one kitchen for everybody. 

“I think transferring us to Binz is not the best decision because of the moving in, and most importantly, our alimentation,” Arias said. “It’s good that they are letting us stay, but it’s not the best location at all.”

Caicedo decided to go to Chicago as he has some family over there. Arias, for his part, remains undetermined. 

I am not only speaking as an international student but also as a senior student. Many people are in the same situation and ask the question: will we be able to walk across that stage at graduation and show the community our accomplishments? The answer remains uncertain. We may also have to say goodbye to some people we have grown to love and cherish throughout our studies at Loras College.

We certainly thought that things would end a different way, we don’t deserve this. It is unfair, but at the same time we know that such drastic measures are indispensable given the current situation. It’s a mix of conflicting feelings and thoughts that come through my mind and the minds of many other students, whether they are international or not, whether they seniors or not. The only thing we can do right now is wait, accept, and respect the measures taken. Let’s hope that this virus is not going to end our fantastic adventure at Loras College prematurely.

To all the people I have met and got to know during my years here, I love you and wish you all the best. 

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