May 7, 2020

Did you change your spring break plans because of the virus? From what to what?

Yes. I have remained in my apartment in Austin along with my grandmother, who  came to visit in January from Saudi Arabia and cannot go home.

How did you feel when you were informed the remainder of the semester would be held online?

I am an international student from Saudi Arabia. I’ve been in the United States since 2013. I’ve been through a lot of ups and downs and they were all related to pursuing my education. Recently I have been put to the test through something that is completely not related to my education. The test is this pandemic that the whole world is going through.

My main concern when I first came here was my education, and that was my focus. However, because of this pandemic I am not able to focus on my studies as much anymore. I am truly struggling to focus because I have other things that I need to worry about too. I am worried about not getting groceries since many grocery stores are extremely busy, and they have many essentials out of stock. This is especially difficult since I am observing Ramadan with my grandmother this year. The lack of resources all over the U.S. is worrying me.

I have not left the house since mid March. My grandmother and I stayed in our house all  this time, and it’s been two months now. My grandmother came to visit in January, and in March the pandemic unfolded.   She can’t leave because there are no flights to Saudi Arabia. We have been weathering the pandemic together ever since it started. Thankfully we are alright, but what is concerning is what is happening in the U.S.

The U.S., unfortunately, has a government that lacks intelligence, and is not able to provide resources for those who need it. Not only that, but also people do not want to obey the stay -at- home orders.  Medical experts are telling us all to stay at home and practice social distancing. The stay- at- home order is something that is extremely important to do and keep because everyone’s safety is important. We cannot let boredom beat us, and let us leave the house while the pandemic is happening. Many states, including Texas,  are lifting the stay at home orders. We are not ready for this yet. Yes, open essential businesses, and it’s alright for people to leave the house when they need to get their essentials. Other than that people need to stay home with their families so that they can stay safe.

What makes me sad is that many food banks and nonprofit organizations are not able to provide for those who need it. Not many people are able to donate for these organizations so that organizations buy the resources that they need. It’s not people’s fault that they are unable to get a paycheck. People are barely surviving with the money that they currently have, and the government is not helping enough.

From a different stand point, many underdeveloped countries have been able to provide for their people. Furthermore, some of these countries enforced martial law. In Saudi Arabia, for example, my father tells me that the country has a strict curfew and anyone who does not abide to those law will be punished severely. Not only that, they also have resources, and are able to provide to many essential areas. Grocery stores are filled, and hospitals have the resources to help those who need it. Thanks to the lockdown that’s being implemented there isn’t a large number of people spreading COVID-19.

It’s truly disappointing what’s happening in the U.S. Everyone in the world is shocked by how the U.S. is handling the pandemic. This makes me sad because I love the U.S. I did not expect the US to be handling a crisis like this in this way. I just hope that everything gets fixed soon, and everything goes back to normal.

Are you going out? Where do you go and what is it like?

No. I have not been out since this started. I couldn’t find flour for Ramadan at any of the stores. When I explained this to my professor, who has been checking on me, she told me that she would bring me flour for my grandmother’s baking. She brought two bags of flour and met me at  my apartment. She left it on the hood of her car and stepped back six feet and I  picked it up. It has also been very important to me to have a medallion since I missed my medallion ceremony. My professor was able to get me a medallion and she is going to meet me next week to drop it off. I am thankful for her help and to the others at St. Edward’s who  have helped me and my grandmother get through this COVID experience.