Amid Coronavirus crisis when everyone advises making this quarantine a quality time with your family, but not everyone is blessed to have such moments with their loved ones. One such example is Pakistani students who have been stuck in China and other European countries for months, their courage and patience for bearing such a crisis must be appreciated. Below is an exciting conversation with Ayesha khan, which not only shows how the international students managed crises without families but also tells how they spent their days staying positive.
Ayesha Khan is a student at Wuhan University pursuing her M.S in economics. Currently, she is in Wuhan along with other Pakistani students, where after many months of severe lockdown, life is getting back to normal.
Faryal: It’s been months now that Pakistani students have been stranded in China when the lockdown was imposed in Wuhan. How did Students manage the crisis and survived in such a strict quarantine?
Ayesha: The word quarantine was entirely unfamiliar to me when we were locked in our dormitories. At first, we thought that it would be no more than a week, but later on, we came to know more about the epidemic many students were panic and their families were worried about their safety. To stay under one roof for more than two months without seeing the sky was very disturbing. Then students started playing, cooking together, and do some indoor fun activities, but somewhere inside, everyone was afraid of being affected.
It was the time when everyone was mentally disturbed so many were gone through anxiety and depression and other psychological issues even many students were afraid to express their normal fever or headache for not being panic to others. But we were told to take strict health precautions like wear masks, use disinfectants in our rooms and wash hands with sanitizer frequently and immediately after coming in contact with anything out of our dorms, and drink more water and inform the hostel management about daily body temperature.
I have some friends, so many other students who were already graduated but still stuck here even their visas were expired flights canceled. Universities didn’t allow anyone to go out form hostels.so many people had many issues that were delayed because of lockdown .hence still the lockdown is not wholly lifted for international students. They can just get out to play daily for two hours but even cannot go out from the university campus. It is strict, but it is safe.
Faryal: How much life changed in Wuhan after lockdown has been lifted? Do you feel like a new life or a new beginning?
Ayesha: Officially lockdown is lifted on 8th April 2020, but not entirely, and international students are still not allowed to go out from the campus. People with written permission and health code can go out for their duties and even only they can take public transport and enter any public place that has health cards. Now the Chinese Government has also started this health code service for foreigners. I already get my health code, but many students still didn’t get health code, so overall, we don’t have any experience now of the outer life in Wuhan.
Faryal: How did the Chinese government help you and what assistance did the Pakistani Embassy provide during a lockdown?
Ayesha: During the lockdown, our university and Chinese government support us in a very positive and helping way by providing necessities Such as vegetable fruit, oil, rice, and sanitizer. Anything halal like chicken and meat, there was a delivery service to the room of every student, which was a great relief to stay safe in quarantine in our hostels. Meanwhile, the Pakistani embassy gave us a helping hand and transferred 3500 RMB to each student account who was stuck here in Wuhan. Some focal persons were sent from the Pakistan embassy to Wuhan to meet with Almost every university student group and listen and try to solve their problem and assured all students to assist whenever they need. Besides, the embassy also provided 750 RMB to each student as a package for Ramadan.
Faryal: What do you advise to other overseas Pakistani, how to manage the Crisis during Quarantine?
Ayesha: This crisis is not the same in all countries; the situation is worst in other countries as compared to Pakistan, so don’t be panic. It is an art to live a balanced life and consumption of goods in low resources, which will enhance more creativity, productivity, and polish the will power of individuals. For example, on regular days if we eat food from a restaurant which costs pretty high but if we make the same food at home, it will cost much lower and also can learn the art of healthy cooking. So stay positive and have proper rest at home; spend some precious time with the family together with its an opportunity to know each other intimately.
Faryal: What would you like to suggest /advise to your countrymen who are still facing Lockdown in Pakistan? How can they manage the stress of complete isolation and work-at-home peacefully?
Ayesha: I would like to suggest, take good care of your health and follow precautions and the instructions of WHO and local governments which can help them stay safe. They should wear masks, avoid social gatherings, keep social distances, and wash hands frequently, don’t go outside if not necessary. Pakistan has an entirely dependent family system like an extended nuclear system, that can result in a disaster. You can spend your time with your family members, watch good movies, do some indoor fun activities like cooking, reading books preparing kids lessons in a fun way to teach them at home. It’s a break from a busy, stressed life enjoy it calmly.
Faryal: What are the greatest challenges you are facing now in Wuhan especially for education?
Ayesha: Now the situation is better in Wuhan, but there are restrictions on people’s movements yet, and there are no such problems related to education, they are delivering online lectures and providing everything to students online. Yes, those students who have to complete their research work in labs as a requirement for their graduation till June, are facing research issue, they need to do experiments in labs with all equipment for they can be able to write their thesis. The government gives some relaxation to them sometime later.
Faryal: How did Students among help each other to cope up with the crisis during quarantine?
Ayesha: Here in Wuhan, we students are here as a family; they shared good bonding during the lockdown. They all are away from our homes and experiencing the same situation so they can help each other in studies, especially related majors. Moreover, they can share good ideas for social well-being. Positive counseling is a better way to cope with all kinds of stress and panic situations.
Frayal Qazi is a student of BS, International Relations at ND University. She based in Quetta and currently pursuing higher studies in Islamabad.