For some international students at Northern College, studying online isn't much of a problem.
Arun Babu and Jigar Patel are second-year students from India studying global business, entrepreneurship and technology at the college. Like many other students, whose programs don’t require in-person attendance, they started their classes virtually this year.
They said studying from home is more like preparing for their future jobs but they do miss socializing with their classmates on campus.
“Our course is a future kind of a thing. This kind of business will be like people will be sitting inside their home, doing all the stuff on iPads or laptops, so we’re being trained for that,” Babu said, explaining it’s not difficult for them to study online as their schedule allows them to have free time and interact with other people outside of school.
“Our program is about technology and entrepreneurship, and right now it’s a booming thing,” Patel said. “Right now, we’re studying where to apply your idea and when to apply it. And as Indians, we do like to play cricket. In college, we have all the gear for cricket, so we’re very happy there but right now it’s closed.”
For international students arriving in Timmins, there’s a "strictly monitored quarantine process,” said college’s president Audrey Penner.
Anmol Sachdeva, who is studying supply chain management at the college, is one of the students who self-isolated upon his arrival.
“It was really awesome and unexpected for me to get this type of hospitality from (the college) as they offered me a three-time superb meal in a day as well as fruits and milk complimentary which made me surprised,” Sachdeva said in an email response. “I was thinking about my quarantine before coming here that it will be difficult to survive for 14 days but with the help of staff members, it really became easy to spend the first day happily.”
Northern College has implemented several COVID-19 precautions in place to limit the spread of the virus such as installing plexiglass barriers and signage and extending study spaces, laboratory and work sites.
“This includes minimal attendance on the campus of students or staff, sign-in and out processes with limited doors open to campus, restricted movement on campus and usage of masks in public spaces,” Penner said in a statement.
Other safety measures, according to the president, include, “extensive sanitization, extensive communication for individual infection prevention, testing protocols in conjunction with the public health unit, action plans in place for affected students or staff.”
Patel said the measures announced by the federal government aimed to help international students during the pandemic were a positive change that allowed students to start their studies from their home countries.
“Financially, it will be better because if you’re here and you don’t have a job, you pay for rent, that’s too much. If they’re at home in India, they’re not paying anything, they (study) from the comfort of their home,” he said. “And professors are very good here at teaching online, so you’re saving a lot of money ... They’re lucky right now. And this experience is counted toward their post-graduation work permit. It’s a very good thing for students.”
Travelling amid the pandemic and having to quarantine can also take a toll on students’ physical and mental health, Patel said.
At the end of August, Babu said some foreign students celebrated the Onam festival at a rented church with about 30 people attending and safety precautions put in place. As for other holidays, like Diwali which will be celebrated in mid-November this year, it isn’t clear yet whether any gatherings will be held, Patel said.
Dariya Baiguzhiyeva, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, TimminsToday.com