#CantGetHome: the initiative to help international students cope with staying in Ireland

Ria McGuire

The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) have launched a virtual campaign for international students stuck in Ireland for the holidays.

The #CantGetHome campaign is focused on international students who are unable to travel home due to the Covid-19.

Through the campaign the USI want to highlight how hard this will be for International students who are unable to see their families over the winter break.

Yuen Wei Siew, an international student studying at DCU said: “it’s an add on stress not having the choice to visit my family during the semester break.”

“It’s a daily task to keep myself busy just to take my mind off the fact that I won’t be able to see my family for another year or so,” said Siew.

Adam Clarke, the Vice President for Postgraduate Affairs in USI explained how the campaign was initiated.

“The conversation about the campaign began in the postgraduate spectrum,” he said.

A postgraduate is a student who has successfully completed an undergraduate degree level course, such as a bachelor’s degree, at a higher level institution and is undertaking further study at a more advanced level, such as a master’s study, or a PhD.

“I administrate our postgraduate working group in USI, people who engage in that group are people working towards their PhDs and they are doing it through an international basis,” said Clarke.

“In a working group, late October, a person began opening up about the dread and difficulty they were fearing as we approached Christmas,” he said. “It prompted a discussion among the group that in the interest of safety they [international students] were not travelling home and spending winter break with their loved ones.”

“In that group we kind of devised the initial stages of what became the #CantGetHome campaign,” added Clarke.

One international student shared their experience of living away from their family during the start of the pandemic in March.

Sathishaa Mohan, a international DCU journalism student said that “it was really hard, it was awful, it was the worst time ever when the pandemic started.”

When the pandemic started in March Mohan received sad news from her family in Malaysia.

“When I heard that my grandmother passed away my mom said: ‘So what can you come back now, can you see your grandmother one last time?’”

“It’s hard because as an international student you have to take into account about the finances,” said Mohan.

“I can’t afford to fail a subject, I can’t afford to differ a semester,” said Mohan. “I pay €15,000 a year.”

“It was a tough decision to miss my grandmothers funeral. First of all it’s a grim occasion and second of all it’s hard to move on,” she said.

“I think it can happen we can forget about international students, people who are contributing to the Irish education system from all across the world,” said Clarke. “I’d like to see international students and their issues enter into wider discussions in all walks of life, not necessarily just education.”

“I’d like to use [the campaign] to encourage international students to engage with the Union of students in Ireland,” Clarke added.

Ria McGuire

Image Credit: USI