• By Calli Delsman

International students facing new experiences traveling back to school due to the coronavirus

For most students, traveling back to campus in the fall is an exciting time to start the new school year. Bethany Theodore, a senior on the women’s basketball team from Melbourne, Australia, had a different experience compared to past years due to the new protocols for COVID-19.

“To travel back here to Minot, I had to apply to leave my country which took around three months. I had to apply to fly through another state in my own country. Then when I got to Sydney, which was the state I was flying out of to get to Minot, I had both the police and army escort me to a hotel which I stayed in by myself until my flight the next day,” Theodore said.

Although the process of returning to campus was long, Theodore knew that even with the risks and stress, she wanted to return to finish her final year of school.

“I knew I wanted to come back and the situation in Minot didn’t really concern me all that much. In the end, it’s up to me. In either country, I had a chance to get it (COVID-19). When I weighed the options, staying home to avoid it didn’t really make much sense,” she said.

After arriving in Minot, Theodore was met with different circumstances than what she was used to over the summer. The restrictions for Melbourne are much stricter than what Minot or North Dakota has.

“Anyone entering the country or anyone entering a different state must quarantine for 14 days. Our government is enforcing lockdown rules. In my state in particular, we reached what we called a state of disaster, which they are currently still in. Some of the rules included that we had to wear masks when out, we were limited to one hour of outside exercise a day, and we could only leave the house to get groceries, for approved work, or care giving,” Theodore explained.

While dealing with the experience of traveling back, Theodore also has the struggle of dealing with her future. Planning to finish her degree and complete her final year of basketball this year, the coronavirus has also impacted her schedule to graduate in May 2021.

“I am having to prepare for the unknown future, deciding things and preparing for things that simply might not happen. I think the hardest thing is trying to make decisions about the future without having complete facts and knowing what the future actually looks like,” Theodore said. “This virus has shown that things can change instantly so answering questions like ‘what are you doing after you graduate?’ seem more difficult than before because we are living in a time of the unknown and planning ahead isn’t something that is super reliable right now.”

Even though Theodore has gone through a more difficult start to the school year than her previous years, she is still certain that her decision to return to MSU was the right one.

“It has largely affected both my education and basketball, mostly because of all the unknowns and the questions that can’t be answered at this stage, but I think it was important for me to come back to finish my degree and graduate so the decision in the end was a rather easy one for me,” Theodore said.

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