International students staying in the United States face difficulties


Media: Camille Beeding '22

3rd form international students gather around a table at a special dinner in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration (from left to right: Patrick Gao ’25, Nicole Leonardo ’25, Chelsea Kuang ’25, Rena Zhang ’25, Lucy Lyu ’25, Joy Wang ’25).

International students from the Hill School who are staying on campus are facing difficulties. Due to the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, numerous students are not able to go back home for two years in a row, producing both physical and mental distress. 

Some international students who are traveling to countries with updated quarantine rules are finding it easy to buy plane tickets. For instance, vaccinated South Korean international students are exempt from the 14-day quarantine process. 

On the other hand, other international students whose countries still have an elongated quarantine period of three or more weeks are experiencing certain difficulties. Anna Guo ’22, an international student from Vietnam, has gone through agonizing pain from flight schedules due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “I spent over 20 hours in the airport because my flight got delayed,” she said. “Though the airline was considerate enough to get me a hotel at the airport, the pandemic has prevented me from going back home.” As many countries are restricting travel processes, such as by closing airlines from certain countries, it is harder for students to find a route to travel back home. 

Even for the students who are going back home, there are still inconveniences affecting their total travel plans. Daphne Wong ’24, an international student from Hong Kong, is flying to Shanghai and then Hong Kong during Thanksgiving, H-term, and Winter Break. However, her quarantine weeks increased, which produced frustration. “One point, the limited flights became an issue so I ended up having to quarantine for seven weeks in total to get there. The pandemic has affected the convenience of traveling drastically,” she said. According to Wong, the stringent requirements and travel restrictions have made it hard for students from mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan to secure flights. 

Recognizing the struggles, the school is actively supporting those international students who are not able to go back home. Though there are no exact numbers for students staying behind, Helen Qiu, administrative coordinator and international families liaison, said, “The school will provide accommodations to students from Nov. 19 to Nov. 21 and from Dec. 17 to Dec. 19. The school strongly suggested that international students stay in the United States with a host family or attend independent camp programs which are not affiliated with The Hill School. The school wants students to experience a life outside of campus, immerse into the American community, and experience different cultures from their home traditions.”

Due to the increased doses of vaccination, it is easier for a majority of international students to go back home and reunite with their loving families. However, the community should not forget those international students who are not able to go back and see their friends and family members. “The most difficult part is not being able to be with my family. Living so far away from home forces me to be independent from a young age. Also, I do miss my friends from home,” Guo explained.