LOCKDOWN STORIES FROM OUR STUDENTS FROM AROUND THE WORLD DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

During this unusual time, as for everyone, exchange students’ lives and plans have been disrupted. More than ever before a student exchange can be a growing experience like no other. And even when it feels like that the whole world has stopped, we still here at Your Education carry on staying in touch with our students making sure that they are being looked after and that they feel safe.

 

Here are some of our students currently away sharing their experiences during the Covid-19 epidemic.

Charlotte, Italy

 

"My name Is Charlotte and I am currently on my exchange year in Milan, Italy. I first arrived in August 2019 and was able to do so many interesting and exciting things up until the point of when the wide spread pandemic - covid19, hit Italy.

 

Being a part of this community during a time like this has been an interesting experience to say the least, many things have changed and we have all been confined to a lockdown period that has been going on for almost seven weeks now. 

 

Although this has been a difficult thing to experience, I’m grateful for not only my host family and the many friends I’ve made here, but also the organisation. The organisation has made sure to check up on me constantly, and keep me informed on all the important information I need to know. They’ve offered me support and have been doing their very best to make me feel comfortable.

 

The community here in Italy have all struggled to deal with this experience but on many occasions, the Italians have come together in a figurative sense and spread joy by singing on their balconies, still isolated but able to share, bond and celebrate with each other from a distance.

 

Although this situation has been mentally and emotionally challenging, it’s an experience that I’ll always remember with lots of positive memories and that’s all owed to the people like my host family I have around me but also, all the major outside support I’ve had from my friends, my school and my organisation.

 

In this scary time I have learnt to understand that things will take time to repair themselves but what matters the most is that everyone is safe."

Thomas, Germany

 

"The Coronavirus has changed many things about daily life in every country, by forcing people to stay indoors and abide by social distancing rules, closing schools and other public meeting areas to slow down the spread of the virus.

 

It’s definitely been an interesting experience as an exchange student to have to adapt to this new challenge.

 

Life in lockdown can be quite boring, but I'm enjoying getting to sleep more and having more time to integrate with my host family. My days are mainly filled with table tennis and badminton and my nights with board games, and as the Easter break has ended I'm doing online school work when I can. I also quite like the extra time to pursue my hobbies like photography.

 

Although being in lockdown is a far different experience than I expected coming to Germany, I’m making the most of a strange situation with all the good and bad parts."

Tegan, Denmark

 

"Life in Denmark right now is fairly uneventful, in the last week, primary students and teachers have been told to return to school with rules and regulations in place to attempt to keep everyone safe and there are measures for 3g (year 13) to be also allowed back to school in order to complete finals coming up now to the end of the school year.

 

I am in 1g (year 11), so me and my class are learning by way of the internet.

 

When I arrived in January, there were eight exchange students at my school, nine with the addition of an Australian girl that started not long after I did. Together we all have a class together on Tuesdays to learn Danish, though we have lost two students as they have had to go home to the other side of the world with this current situation.

 

My friends and I are all talking a lot, but we are all itching to get back outside and go on trips to cities and shops and just be around each other again. There is a rule that we are allowed outside, however there is a limit on ten people in one place at a time.

 

Thankfully this is the case, and while I have been home alone with my host mum and brother's out at school I have been able to go on walks to a nearby forest, getting much needed fresh air and exercise.

 

I do still really enjoy my time here in Denmark, and I am trying what I can to still stay involved in life, from playing with my brothers to participating in classes. I believe that here we still have about three weeks of quarantine left, and we are all hoping the next three weeks pass quickly."

Thomas, Germany

 

Thomas appeared in the local newspaper in the town where he is staying. Here is the link to the original story and you can read the translation below (Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator - free version).

"Exchange connects: Family life is especially important in times of limited public life. It becomes really interesting with a new temporary family member in the context of a student exchange.

 

The Köster-Lange family from Bremen-Grohn, who, despite Corona, experience cultural exchange and spend a wonderful and varied time with their New Zealand guest son, tells us about this. Since February 2020, the 16-year-old Thomas from New Zealand has been living with them for 10 months as an exchange student, initiated by the non-profit exchange organisation Experiment e.V. Due to the Corona crisis, the stay of their guest son, but also that of their own son, is going differently than planned: "Clemens, one of our three sons, travelled to the USA in August last year with the scholarship of the Parliamentary Sponsorship Programme and should stay until June this year. For that period, we decided to become host families ourselves and to host an international student with us. This is how Thomas from New Zealand came to us in mid-February," says host mother Johanna Köster-Lange.

 

At first everything went as planned - until the Corona pandemic ended Clemens' state-sponsored stay in the USA in March. Thomas, on the other hand, was released to stay in Bremen. "Now Thomas has a guest brother of the same age with similar interests and experiences, and he is learning a lot very quickly. The atmosphere here is like in an international youth hostel and with four male teenagers in the house we don't feel so isolated at all," says Johanna Köster-Lange happily. "We are happy that Thomas is still with us and that we can all spend this time together as a family with chatty coffee breaks and extensive cooking evenings".

 

Experiment e.V., Germany's oldest non-profit exchange organisation, looks after almost 200 young people from 17 different countries and their host families in Germany every year. About three-quarters of the participants have decided to return home early in the current situation, and about 50 host families and their host children - like the Lange and Thomas families - will continue their stay until the planned end.

 

Host families for international young people between 15 and 18 years are still being sought for this year. The students are expected to arrive at the end of August and will stay in Germany for three months to one school year. Due to the current corona situation, the usual conversations in the host family's house will be conducted via video telephone for the protection of all participants. A personal visit to the family before the arrival of the host child will of course take place under all prescribed hygiene measures. The arrival of the international students will also depend on the current regulations and conditions: Currently, more plans are being made with guest children from Europe, where travel will be possible as early as mid-June. Students from other continents and their host families will have to wait a little longer, depending on the regulations, before they can get to know each other in person. However, thanks to digital communication channels, there is nothing to prevent them from getting to know each other virtually.

 

Intercultural student exchange is primarily about getting to know the host family and their region or the host child and their home country - it is more than just a trip. That's why it is especially important that all participants only start the program if they feel safe and fit."

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