NU offers support to international students deciding whether to go home


Daily file photo by Noah Frick-Alofs

Northwestern students returning home for the summer may apply for travel aid and other financial assistance. Students were also given the option of living in graduate housing, according to Residential Services.

Rayna Song, Reporter

For international students who lived in Evanston this spring, the difficult decision to stay in the United States or return home at the end of the quarter is nothing new — they made a similar decision at the end of Winter Quarter.

As those students weigh their options, the University has offered support ranging from travel aid to free storage, as well as events introduced by the Division of Student Affairs.

Students who had planned on returning home were able to ask for a travel aid from a temporary emergency assistance fund, which was available until April 15, according to the University’s website. Beyond that date, students still had access to other financial resources.

“I received a refund for tickets home, and I will probably also get some more aid in summer because I take summer classes,” McCormick sophomore Anastasia Lantsova said.

Lantsova, from the Moscow area, said she bought a ticket in March. However, the flight was canceled, and she was able to keep the money to buy another ticket home. She said she hoped she would go home soon but it would depend on her embassy.

Executive director of campus life Brent Turner said the Division of Student Affairs would continue to support students during the summer by offering advice, as well as virtual space for students to cope.

Turner added the Division of Student Affairs has been sending out a weekly newsletter, The Paw Print, which introduces various events in the following week.

“(The Paw Print) highlights the latest news and wellness, and opportunities to be physically distant but socially connected,” Turner said. “We will continue to offer that (during the summer) with upcoming events.”

Weinberg sophomore Xiangheng Chen decided to stay in Evanston this summer in part because of the difficulties in getting a plane ticket home to Shanghai, China. She said all four tickets she has bought since March have been canceled or are pending cancellation.

“My parents are worried that international travel is one of the most risky places where you might get infected with coronavirus,” Chen said.

Another factor influencing her decision to stay in the United States, Chen said, is the U.S. State Department’s Level 4 travel advisory, suggesting Americans avoid travel to China due to COVID-19. . Non-U.S. citizens who have been to China in the past two weeks are prohibited from entering the United States, with few exceptions. She was concerned that she might not be able to return to Evanston if school starts up again.

Chen said she reached out to Residential Services for summer housing options. In response, the department said the dorms would not open during the summer, but students had the option of living in graduate housing for $50 per night, and students may leave on whichever day they want.

Although living in graduate housing communities offers more flexibility compared to renting off-campus student apartments, the former is also more expensive, amounting to $1,500 per month compared to approximately $1,000 for a rented room in Evanston.

According to the University’s website, undergraduate students who lived on campus Winter Quarter could receive free storage for their belongings during the summer, as long as they signed up by June 12.

“I’m super happy that the University offers free storage,” Chen said. “The service is really convenient. I don’t have to carry the packages around.”

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Twitter: @Rayna52637952

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