NU international students react to European travel ban


Brian Cassella / Chicago Tribune

Some passengers wear masks after arriving on international flights on March 15, 2020, at Terminal 5 of O’Hare International Airport amid coronavirus concerns.

Rayna Song, Reporter

President Trump’s 30-day travel ban on 26 European countries took effect March 13, which meant European students who went to their home countries would not be able to return to the United States as long as the travel ban lasts. Many such international students debated whether to go home at all.

McCormick freshman Diogo Costa, who is from Portugal, said the European travel ban was one reason he decided not to go home.

“I think that it is very likely that there would still be a travel ban in five weeks,” Costa said. “Then I would be stuck back home.”

Costa said though international students unable to return would still have access to online classes even if in-person classes returned, the quality of the online classes would be different. He said it would be harder for him to concentrate during class and many of his engineering courses require hands-on experience.

Other European students expressed similar concerns about being unable to return to the United States. McCormick freshman Felix Haba, who is from Spain, also decided to remain on campus.

Haba said when he first heard about the travel ban, he was concerned because he knew he could potentially get stuck in Spain. Despite this inconvenience, Haba said ordering the ban was the right thing to do.

“Whatever it takes to stop the virus is a good measure,” Haba said. “Hopefully we will either find a cure or eventually stop the virus, and the situation would go back to normal.”

On the other hand, another student from Spain, Isabel Azpiroz, decided to go home because of the uncertainty surrounding the resumption of in-person classes. She said she did not know whether the University would resume in-person classes in Spring Quarter, and it would be more complicated for her to go home later.

“I can’t be sure that the University won’t close (the dorms) completely at some point,” the Weinberg freshman said. “The idea of going through a quarantine (on campus) completely alone and isolated, and totally depending on the University, is not ideal.”

Weinberg sophomore Kristina Feikova also recently left campus for Europe. Feikova said she landed on March 15 in Budapest, Hungary, where her parents picked her up and drove her to their home in Slovakia, which is three hours away from the Budapest airport.

Feikova said the ban would not be a problem for her if it was going to be 30 days because so far, students are not going to return to Northwestern until April 27.

“I have a flight for April 26 right now,” Feikova said. “If they prolong the travel ban… that could be a problem.”

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