COVID-19 Travels Around The Globe

COVID-19 sends Ola’s exchange students packing.


Courtesy of Fabio Martinez

Fabio Martinez(right) and friends hang out before the pandemic. COVID-19 separated friends.

Maria Adams, Managing Editor

Students all over the world face unique challenges because of COVID-19. These challenges include missing special events, struggling with online classes and stressing over health and economic changes. High schools around the world have closed to help flatten the curve. On March 13, 2020, Ola High School and ASL(American School in London) closed and began remote learning.

“They canceled all ISSTs for the winter seasons (our varsity sports tournaments), all alternative trips (our annual school trips to different locations around Europe), all music trips, MUN(model united nations) conferences and a South Africa trip,” Isabella Lhuillier, senior of  ASL, said.

ASL shut down when a community member tested positive for the coronavirus, and they will not reopen until after April 17, 2020. Students are staying home, but some students are far away from their homes and are heading back.

“We[exhange students] were allowed to stay, but they recommended us to leave. Because it was the best thing since the agency said it, and if I wouldn’t leave now I would have needed to come back in September,” Fabio Martinez, senior and Ola High’s exchange student from Spain, said.

Martinez returned home on March 20, 2020. His family was happy to have him home safe and healthy. Nonetheless, Martinez worried about his health when he was here and believed his host family was not taking the matter seriously as own parents would.

Maria Adams
Exchange students go home. They planned to leave after school end, but they left earlier to be with their families during the pandemic.

“It showed me that most people in America don’t care about important issues like this one related with the COVID-19 because they thought it was only a problem that Asian and European people would have,” Martinez said.

As of March 26, 2020, the USA currently has the highest amount of infected cases, according to John Hopkins University. Martinez is very concerned about the virus and believes it should be everyone’s priority. There are many methods people around the world are trying, including social distancing, to flatten the curve.

“Almost everyone I know is practicing social distancing but most people are still allowed out of their house to walk around and get exercise. However, most of us are no longer allowed to see very many people. My parents don’t let me take public transport anymore or go into any stores unless I have to,” Lhuillier said.

The situation in London is very similar to the one students are facing here. London grocery stores also have little-to-no toilet paper, hand sanitizer and tissues.

“In just one week COVID-19 has dramatically altered life in London. There is a real sense of paranoia and a bit of hysteria surrounding the virus. I feel as though some people are taking it to the extreme. I personally am less frightened about the actual disease and more about the potential economic and social damage placing large areas of the world on lockdown could do,” Lhuillier said.

In just one week COVID-19 has dramatically altered life in London. There is a real sense of paranoia and a bit of hysteria surrounding the virus.”

— Isabelle Lhuilier

The concern about the effect of the coronavirus on the economy worries many students. Seniors are graduating and looking for jobs in a time where over 3 million people are now unemployed. However, many people are primarily concerned with escaping the harsh health consequences of the virus.

“They[my family] are worried about me taking the plane and being exposed in a public place. However, they think it’s better for me to go back since they don’t want to risk anything,” Nico Chang, sophomore and Ola High’s exchange student from Taiwan, said.

Chang enjoyed the extra time she had to bond with her host family during the school’s closing. She will be leaving two months earlier than expected, so she did miss out on the opportunity to explore more of the United States of America. These hardships connect people around the world, and the exchange students heading home will be missed by their friends.