4 Reasons I Chose To Stay in the UK During the Covid-19 Outbreakby Ari
'Should I fly back to my home country or stay in Newcastle where I am?' - the ultimate dilemma plaguing the minds (pun intended!) of every international student in the world during the Covid-19 outbreak. To risk boarding flights full of potential coronavirus carriers, or to remain in a foreign country, while watching friends travel back to their homes?
Personally, I chose to stay in the UK. Some people are (virtually) patting me on the back telling me I made a responsible decision by not contributing to the number of cases in Malaysia, while others ask fear-mongering questions such as 'what if the healthcare services don’t prioritise you because you’re not a citizen?'
As a typical Asian, of course I decided to remain in Newcastle after a discussion with my family. Here are 4 reasons why!
1. I don’t want to contract Covid-19, or risk spreading it to others
I would have to take at least two flights and pass through at least three airports to go home. Sounds like a recipe for disaster, right? Many students who flew back from overseas have been certified positive with coronavirus, with some being asymptomatic.
I also live in a fairly urban area not far from the capital of Kuala Lumpur back in Malaysia, where I might be more at risk of contracting coronavirus than in Newcastle. Moreover, the idea of any sort of quarantine where I’m not allowed to see my family doesn’t sound fun.
2. I have a ‘family’ in Newcastle
In the UK, I’ve been living with a family of Malaysian permanent residents, and we even have a cat! So, thankfully, my housemates aren’t going anywhere and are here for me if anything happens. I am aware that the majority of students aren’t as privileged.
I’m truly thankful for the stability and security of having a ‘family’ despite studying abroad. Similarly, most of my friends who chose to stay in the UK also have housemates who are staying here.
3. It is difficult and tedious to fly back home
I’m a final year student, so I would have so many things to think about if I were to go home. Would I be going back for good or just temporarily? How would I post all my belongings back to Malaysia? I plan to try to get a graduate job in the UK - how will I do that if I’m not here?
On balance, it's much easier to stay in Newcastle.
4. I want to make the most of every second I still have in the UK
I genuinely love studying abroad, travelling in the UK and other European countries, and pursuing opportunities that are not available back home. Obviously, I can’t really do those things now due to the lockdown, but it’s alright, since I have my final semester assignments to complete anyway.
But I’m hoping that everything will be back to normal, so I can enjoy my time in the UK at least until my student visa expires, or hopefully even longer if I manage to get a job!
This wasn’t an easy decision to make - I had to think it through while dealing with the many changes in my life. Ultimately, the decision to go home or to stay in the UK is a very personal one, and the pros and cons of each decision must be weighed carefully.
Fortunately, there are support groups on Facebook and Whatsapp for Malaysians staying in Newcastle and the UK. Students can also seek help and support in the Students' Union’s Covid-19 Community group, where the NUSU Sabbatical Officers are working hard to entertain us every day!
To all students staying where you are, I salute you. Please choose healthy coping mechanisms and stay strong. This too shall pass.
PS. If you've run out of TikTok videos to watch or weird recipes to try, why not occupy your time reading about my amazing journey to Newcastle?
Published By Ari on 15/04/2020 | Last Updated 24/02/2021