My education should be essential

A student shares her difficulties with managing online learning amid travel restrictions in Brazil.

Having all classes online in a different time zone is complicated, but that’s what’s happening to me and thousands of other Brazilian students right now. 

Our lives have been full of anxiety since May 24 when a proclamation signed by President Donald Trump suspended the entry of all people coming from Brazil who stayed more than 14 days in the country.

Recently, the United States government announced European students are exempt from the travel restrictions, a measure that gave me the false hope that soon it would be Brazilian students’ turn — poor, deluded girl. 

As of now, students from Brazil, China and Iran can’t go back to the U.S. to pursue their studies. We have absolutely no clue when this is going to change and when we will have control over our educational decisions again. 

As a Temple student, I have classes and work from early in the morning until late at night, and oftentimes I get confused with assignments, due dates and scheduled meetings, because of the time difference.

It’s hard to adapt to my family’s schedule at home and the current stage of the COVID-19 pandemic in Brazil, lagging behind the U.S. 

Classes started two weeks ago, and I still don’t know if I will be able to go back to the U.S. for the semester. 

I pay rent to live in the U.S. and my job, obligations and belongings are all there. But I can’t access any of these because of the travel ban. 

Now, I am torn between my physical security at home in Brazil, and the understanding that my academic and professional life is in the U.S.

It is mentally exhausting not knowing what to do next and not being able to decide for myself what is best for my situation. I would like to have the right to choose what is best for me. 

Many of us Brazilian students have jobs in the U.S., have required in-person classes or are seniors who need to be in the U.S. to apply for an optional practical training, among many other predicaments. We pay taxes, rent and university services fees even though we are far from our universities.

We have a huge part of our lives in the U.S., and the government is preventing us from having access to what we have already paid for. 

As an international student, the frustration I feel is overwhelming. First, after the ICE measures banning international students was first introduced, I felt rejected and unwelcome in a country that is known for being the land of new opportunities.

And now, this uncertainty about the travel ban brings me so much anxiety. I could have everything planned, but a simple new announcement can change everything. It is exhausting to feel I basically have no control over my life and I can’t make my decisions alone.

It doesn’t make sense to me that some students can go back to pursue their education in the country they paid a lot to live in, while others can’t.

Education is essential travel. The U.S. should exempt all the international students from the travel ban. We should have the right to decide what is best for our education.

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