In Light of Corona: What Is the Situation for the Expat Girls at AUD’s Dorms?

The exhaustion from traveling became more evident when Aya Ramadan, a journalism student, tried to enter the dorms at the American University in Dubai, but failed. She tried to convince the security man with her last bit of energy to enter the dorms after she traveled to Syria during the spring break. However, she was forced to quarantine at her sister’s house for two weeks.

In Aya’s situation, finding another place to stay, other than the university’s dorms, was not very difficult. On the other hand, in fear of going through these struggles, but ending up without any other place to stay, many girls avoided traveling, and chose to spend their entire vacation and quarantine time at the university’s dorms.

It is important to note that AUD’s president, David Schmidt, sent an email to all students, and especially the university’s dorms’ students, regarding the university’s policy in this crisis. He emphasized that the entrance of the students that chose to travel during the spring break and distance learning period will not be allowed. He also added that any student who left the country needs to complete 14 days of quarantine outside of the dorms, in the UAE, and needs to bring a medical report that proves that the student is not infected with the coronavirus or COVID-19.

The experiences and feelings of the girls who are dealing with the current situation at the university’s dorms vary.

“I wasn’t planning on traveling even before corona, because of the sports tournaments that I was supposed to participate in here,” says Enrica Vanzolini, who is an Italian volleyball player and an international studies student. She continues to explain that her plans changed anyway due to the spread of the virus that leads to the cancellation of all sports tournaments, and the closure of all public sports facilities.

“I feel like I’m lucky to be here with the terrifying situation in Italy, and I feel great worry for my family and all Italians,” says Vanzolini, with feelings of gratitude showing on her face. Vanzolini also expresses that what she can do is to follow all the necessary sanitary procedures. All that she wishes for is the end of what is happening, and for her to be able to hug her family members soon, in summer, without being afraid.

While worry and gratitude control Enrica Vanzolini’s feelings, two friends, a Syrian international studies student, Maram Abu Al Haija, and an Egyptian interior design student, Mayar Younes, who didn’t travel to Saudi Arabia, the place where their families stay, are overwhelmed with sadness.

“The atmosphere is depressing and the girls’ dorms are empty,” says Maram, while exercising with Mayar at the gym in the university’s dorms building. “Today I woke Mayar up from sleep, and we went to the gym because sleeping is going to increase the general depressing atmosphere.”

Mayar also says that although she used to exercise every day before all these events, she now has no energy, nor the mood, for anything these days.

“I canceled my travel ticket on the same day of my trip, in fears of all trips being stopped, and that is what actually happened after that,” says Mayar.

Maram also adds the reason behind her staying in the country. “I called off the idea of traveling as soon as the virus spread, in fears of becoming infected at the airport, being stuck in Saudi Arabia, and putting my final academic year at risk in any shape or form,” says Maram. “One of my biggest fears is that I, or one of my family members, become infected with corona while we’re far from each other.”

To note, AUD didn’t evacuate it’s dorms like it did in the case of its campus, but students whose families live in the UAE were encouraged to go back to their homes, and the university warned against traveling generally. The university’s medical center is still working on helping students with its services by answering their questions regarding the coronavirus and its symptoms through a hotline.

Translated by: Mais Othman

Edited by: Farah Mohamed

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