International students face uncertainty and hardship due to COVID-19 concerns


Infographic by Annalise Freimarck

Caden Zhao, Reporter

Faced with the decision of returning home or remaining in the U.S., international students at De Anza College are experiencing both economic and mental pressure during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Currently, 116 international students did not re-enroll for spring, according to an email sent Marisa Spatafore, associate vice president of communications and external relations for De Anza College.

Financially, international students have to pay a tuition fee of $208 per unit, as well as a $563 health insurance fee per quarter. The health insurance fee can be waived if an international student chooses to go back to their home country, according to an email sent by the International Students Program.

“This is good news for international students. However, the tuition is also a burden for us,” said George Lukman, 21, mechanical engineering major and an Indonesian international student. “I already came back to Indonesia. The different time zone also becomes a barrier for me.”

Even if international students are studying from their home country this quarter, they must complete at least 12 units per quarter in order to maintain their F-1 status.

Lukman said this places more academic pressure on international students, coupled with the mental and financial strain the pandemic has brought on.

“Sometimes professors didn’t reply to my email,” said Lukman. “This really drives me crazy as I want to know more about the class in the case that we can’t talk face-to-face.”

Lukman also said that he, as well as other international students who returned home, are unsure when to return to the U.S., which raises questions of transferring in the fall.

“I am not sure when to go back since the situation is still very serious in the States,” Lukman said. “However, I am transferring this year and got admitted by UC San Diego. So I just need to wait until September.”

Helen Zhao, 19, linguistics major and international student from Hubei, China, said she is not worried about transferring in the fall and how her GPA may be affected during the pandemic. She is transferring to UC Berkeley.

I only have to complete enough credits,” she said.

In order to handle the stressors of being an international student during the COVID-19 pandemic, “Animal Crossing”, Tik Tok and Youtube become a welcome distraction.

“For me, (“Animal Crossing”) is like an escape from this cruel and crazy world,” said Zhao. “I usually don’t limit my time on these things.”

Lukman said he hopes the pandemic will pass quickly.

“It’s really a hard time for everyone in the world,” he said. “I can’t wait to come back to the US and enroll in my new school.”

UPDATE: This article has been updated to reflect the most current numbers of international students who did not re-enroll for Spring.