International Students during Covid

In their own words: International students during Covid
international students during covid

Each issue of Global Connections highlights the experiences of international students or educators who visit Ottawa and attend OCDSB schools through OCENET. In this issue the focus is on three international students from Gloucester High School, one who stayed in Ottawa, one who returned home, and one who recently graduated.


Elena from Spain


The pandemic experience affected me in many ways. It was very difficult for me to stay at home everyday and not go to school and do all of the activities I was used to, especially hanging out with my friends. I really thought my exchange year was going to be ruined forever by Covid; I thought I was never going to be able to see my Canadian friends again. I decided to stay in Canada so that I could remain with my new friends and so I could continue to work on my goal of being a fluent speaker of English. I loved going to school and classes everyday and didn’t adjust well to online learning as it seemed more difficult on the computer and it was a challenge to motivate myself for learning even though my teachers were supportive and cared for their students. At the beginning of the pandemic, I spent much of my time cooking with my host Mom, talking and watching movies with my host sister, doing gymnastics, and facetiming with friends. I contacted my family regularly. I have learned how to spend a lot of time by myself and deal with a difficult situation. In spite of all the challenges imposed by Covid, I consider being an international student in Canada the best experience of my life.

Jaeyeop from South Korea


First of all, I was supposed to stay in Ottawa until July for school but I came back to South Korea because of the pandemic. At that time, Korea was safer than Canada and I didn’t have assurances that I would be able to go return to Korea for the summer vacation. When I returned to Korea, I isolated and was tested. I found that my courses were easier online and I could spend more time studying other things such as studying English grammar and reading books that I wanted to read after finishing school assignments. Every week I had online meetings through Google Hangouts. My Japanese teacher, Mr. Smith, taught me to understand how grammar works and he helped me practice. Even though we were not in class physically, I was able to improve my Japanese at home. I’m thankful that I met a teacher like him who is passionate about teaching. When I wasn’t doing schoolwork, I went to Jiu Jitsu club when Korea’s pandemic situation improved. After I came back to Korea, I contacted my Canadian friends and international student friends to ask them how they were doing in the situation. I miss my girlfriend in Ottawa, my friends, teachers, and ordinary life. I hope I can go back to Canada soon!

Katherine from China


COVID-19 affected me in lots of ways. I hardly went out and stayed with my homestay family most of the time. During the pandemic I bought a skateboard, read books, watched movies, and also did some baking. I used social media to talk with my friends and family. Up until the end of June, I felt uncomfortable doing courses online because I couldn’t talk to my teachers face-to-face even though they were patient and tried to answer my questions. While online learning allowed more flexibility with my time, I find that it doesn’t work well for me. I am very thankful to my host family and many other people who helped me during this time. I graduated from Grade 12 this year, and I applied to Canadian universities. I got several offers and I decided to go to the University of Waterloo to study Mathematics. But then the university announced that all the students in Fall 2020 are going to have online courses, so I will go back to China and I will return to Canada for my studies at a later date. Most of my friends went back to China, though some of them stayed in Ottawa. I hope everyone will be safe, and that we definitely can pass through this together!

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