International students forced to miss classes to spend Christmas with their families

By Beatriz Abreu Ferreira

Many international students fear they will be forced to miss face-to-face classes as they will be quarantined on their return to university after visiting their families over the holidays.

While De Montfort University students in Leicester were given a student travel window to go home for Christmas, during which all classes will be online, with the start of the new semester and the return of face-to-face classes, many international students are expecting to miss their lectures due to being quarantined after returning from their home countries. 

As things stand, people arriving in the UK from most countries are required to self-isolate for 14 days, only being exempt when traveling from the Common Travel Area (Republic of Ireland, Channel Islands, or the Isle of Man) or countries in travel corridors with the UK. 

International students will face several difficulties if they spend the holiday period with their families 

Cristina Gonçalves, second-year Journalism and International Relations student, will be travelling to Spain tomorrow (FRI,DEC4), on the third flight she booked to go home.

Her first flight was supposed to be on the 19th, but she changed it to fit the student travel window. This second flight was then cancelled by the airline which made her book a new one during the weekend. 

She said: “The main problem was the airlines cancelling flights during the week and compressing all those passengers in weekend flights, which also doesn’t sit well with Government guidelines.

“Also, with the (very late) announcement of the student travel window, many people including myself had booked their flights before. I lost a lot of money changing flights and train tickets.”

Cristina will be forced to miss her face-to-face lectures during the three initial weeks of classes. “I will have to self-isolate because Spain is a high-risk area, and as I only manage to get back on the 15th due to flight availability, that means I will miss three weeks,” she added.

Morgana Ribeiro, another second-year Journalism and International Relations student, is traveling to Portugal but admitted ‘feeling a little anxious’.

“After I booked my flight I received several reminders to follow the GOV guidelines to prevent the spread of the virus. I have, however, decided to get tested to make sure it was safe for me to travel,” she said.

Although she is aware of the requirement to self-isolate, Morgana is still hopeful that it changes over the next month.  

Julia Wójcik, in the second-year of her International Marketing and Business with Spanish course, has already travelled back to Poland.

“I was supposed to be coming home on 15th of December but I was felling homesick and scared of possible travel restrictions so I informed my tutors and left on the 17th of November,” she said.

“I have been getting extra materials from seminars I missed, but as from this week there’s no more face-to-face classes, so it ends up I only missed two of them.”

Julia is planning to return on December 29, missing New Year’s Eve with her family, but making sure she can go back to classes at the beginning of the semester.

Anastazja Zielinska, who is doing a foundation year in Business and Management, will not be able to visit her family, because of the quarantine requirements which will not allow her to work.

“I’ve got four flatmates and all of them are in a similar situation. So I’m going to spend Christmas with them,” Anastazja explained.

However, she admitted it was ‘a very hard decision’ and very disappointing to her family. “It will be the first time I’m not home for Christmas,” she said.

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