A Guide for Indian Students: Surviving in the US during the Pandemic

April 7, 2021


COVID Guidelines, Covid-19, Indian Students, Indian Students in the US, overseas education


The education sector collectively has fallen short of funds not only in India but in the country globally. It is needless to say that Indian students are the second largest group of people in abroad universities. They moved out of their continent’s border to enter into foreign lands for world-class education and forming associations with several critical unfamiliar people to kick-start their careers.

Since March last year, things have fallen apart drastically due to the pandemic, leaving the people hopeless, especially those living as immigrants in foreign lands. While the social sectors have had their fair share to deal with and handle, it would not be wise to exclude the plight of Indian students living in the US. These students come to the US to fulfill their ‘American Dream‘ of achieving the best in their lives and grabbing good employment opportunities. India is currently facing a surge of crisis in providing the fresh talents and young minds with an appropriate employment option; the only thing left is to look towards foreign universities, which promises to offer better employment opportunities.

However, when the pandemic struck the countries worldwide, the Indian Students studying and living in the US suffered a significant deal of mental anxiety, to be precise. Most Indian students studying in the US universities tend to come from a lower-income group of families and afford to stay in the US with student loans. They depend on repaying by scoring an excellent job in the US. There has been a significant disruption in such plans for these students because of the COVID pandemic.

The unpredictable circumstance of leaving the accommodation behind and skeptical of how efficient would be managing the full online mode of learning followed by the possibility of inability to come back when things go back to normal had a significant influence on all international students’ mental state. Students who worked small jobs on-campus to meet day-to-day expenses could not afford to buy groceries or eat correctly. On top of everything, the fear of not completing their diploma/degree and paying back their student loan made these Indian students dread it with suspicion.


The Coping Strategies

While the times are tough economically and socially, wasting a year and contemplating the feeling of isolation in a foreign country would not pave the way; Looking into how that could best help survive the US’s COVID condition might make things more accessible than the present. While your home country might be the best option to stabilize your psyche, but changing your perspective by staying in the land of your career could yield better results.

Firstly, there are more cultural discrepancies in non-native students finding it hard to follow specific cues while studying virtually and sometimes being a victim of xenophobia and racism. While there are Universities like Cambridge and Oxford that have confirmed letting know the students pursuing a specific course in their university to attend classes online, knowing the situation has not yet settled to welcome back a new batch of students amidst the danger of COVID-19. The digitalization of courses might be a problem, knowing that face-to-face interaction and physical presence on the campus carry tremendous importance. After several lawsuits and objections, the universities in the US decided to take back their decision on international students’ ability to stay in the Universities if studying online might have been a little too extra on the student’s psychology. Utilizing this given decision could prove beneficial in every sense for all the international students in the US.

Secondly, students can always reach out to their university counselors to manage the present devastating scenario. The need to ask for help in dealing with mental conditions or anxiety would be the best fit since the universities abroad are trying to erase the stigma associated with mental health. The times are tough, and everyone struggles, so people living broad with sometimes no source to contact their loved ones might sometimes feel majorly dreadful.

Thirdly, students abroad should understand the need to stay and connect with their potential employers as networking could produce better job opportunities post the pandemic period. The universities encourage the international student to actively seek help to support their mental health and focus on maintaining their GPA for securing OPT (Optional Practical Training) visa permit from US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and ensuring the ability to get employed in the States. Another essential concern right now prevails OPT visa permit’s inability due to lockdown & COVID crisis beholding these international students’ right and opportunity to get a blue-collar job.

Lastly, students in the meantime, while there are also no scheduled classes on virtual mode, could go for certification courses available on Udemy, Edx, and other virtual platforms that offer various programs at reasonable prices. These courses would only add up to their skills for a higher probability of better future employment.

The overall understanding reflects the need to keep going mentally and physically to survive the pandemic and an alien atmosphere in a foreign country. Seeking mental help when needed could showcase successful determination and willingness to transform careers. The decision to admit yourself to a foreign university deems to be a challenge in itself. So, the road to journey will have its unknown barriers.


 Let’s Wrap Up

 As much as the idea of studying abroad seems fascinating, every country would appear challenging to non-native individuals. Things might soon fall back to their place, but while the ‘new normal’ till prevails, juggling and making it through the end of the long, dark tunnel should be the main aim. There are counselors in the States specifically to help international students living and studying in their country.

Meanwhile, the students who plan to get enrolled in the next trimester for their choice, of course, must keep must begin with filtering out all the prospective and potential universities that best suits their preference of study/course. Various universities have extended their registration window, knowing the situation and granting the much-needed time to decide on moving beyond the subcontinent’s borders. The student must know about the various steps pre and post applying for admission that involves arranging for an education loan, applying for the F/J visa, and looking for suitable travel and health insurance to stay secured in a foreign country in crisis times accidental circumstances. All these students must keep in touch with their universities.

Once things begin going back to their usual self, the students staying abroad could look for employment opportunities via their strong network built because they decided to stay behind and grow their chances of grabbing a suitable job. The research scholar from India in the US could look out for their scholarship programs to be reinstated, which might help them bring their research back in the specified direction.

The US universities accept applications from several Indian and other international students who would give them the strength to bring back revenue and help students with scholarships or fellowship programs to get a hold of their life back in the US. Meanwhile, such students could wait to hear back from employers and companies who were potential ones before the pandemic struck.

All the skeptical decisions before would make sense once the challenging phase passes and the student has a hard-earned degree in their hands along with a job to pay off the student loan debts.

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Disclaimer: This blog was written based on the personal research of the writer. Readers’ discretion is advised. Neither Student Cover nor the writer will be held liable for any wrongful interpretation of this blog’s content.

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