‘Disappointing’: Queen’s students talk winter exchange

Varying levels of restrictions create uncertainty

Some have already begun their exchange semester while others wait it out.
Credit: 
Journal File Photo

As countries home to exchange schools operate under varying levels of pandemic-related regulations, Queen’s students confront uncertainty in the travel process.

Paisia Warhaft, Comm ’23, is anticipating updates for her semester in Tokyo at the Rikkyo College of Business in April.

“On Dec. 1, I got a message from my school in Tokyo stating that Japan was closing its borders to foreigners for a month,” Warhaft said in an interview with The Journal.

The Japanese government has since extended restrictions until the end of February. Warhaft remains hopeful cases will begin to decrease as the weather warms,.

“The resurgence of restrictions abroad has been disappointing more than anything else. I was getting hopeful that my exchange would run smoothly with such a late start date. On the other hand, I understand that the government is trying to protect their most vulnerable.”

“My exchange term is unusual, it stretches through the summer from April to August, so my plan was to use the months between to visit my mum in Indonesia,” Warhaft said.

It’s been three years since Warhaft last saw her mother. In the event that Rikkyo College remains remote, Warhaft said she’ll be staying in Indonesia and attending school from there.

When asked if the university provided support throughout the exchange process, Warhaft said she felt well-assisted. Since most commerce students will go on exchange at some point in their time at Queen’s, the faculty has designated and readily available exchange advisors.

Despite the support she received from the commerce faculty, Warhaft said if her exchange falls through due to rising COVID-19 cases, she’ll have to risk extending her degree plan so she can complete courses necessary to her degree.

Indira Fisher, ArtSci ’23, has begun classes at Rotterdam University in the Netherlands.

The Dutch country is slowly easing lockdown regulations, and in-person learning commenced this past week, according to Fisher.

Fisher said the International Program Office (IPO) will continue to support her exchange if the host university are still “welcoming” students.

“I haven’t heard from them, but I also haven’t really noticed any lack of support,” Fisher said in an interview with The Journal.

While Fisher has already started her semester, she’s still worried the Netherlands will go back into lockdown. With strict regulations, she’s also unsure how she’ll meet new people—an integral part of the exchange experience.

“Obviously I wish things were more normal, but I know it’s necessary and we’re making it work.”

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