Despite cancellation of outgoing international exchanges, U of O welcomes international students to campus for winter semester

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After completing part of their exchange online, exchange students are excited and nervous to move on to in-person classes

Despite cancellations of outgoing international exchanges for the winter term, the University of Ottawa has welcomed students from other countries to campus to participate in exchange programs here in Ottawa.

The pandemic has changed the rules of international travel. After providing airlines with mandatory negative COVID-19 tests, the students flew to Canada, where in Ottawa they were welcomed into quarantine.

Marine Issartel, a third-year student from France, found traveling stressful, especially right after vacation.

“[Traveling] It was a little stressful, but it went well because I had my proof of vaccination, my quarantine plan and my study permit,” Issartel explained.

Once in the country, travelers must take a COVID-19 test at the airport and self-quarantine until they receive a negative test result.

Dora Batov, an exchange student from the UK, arrived in Ottawa on January 5th.

“Quarantine is quite interesting because I quarantined for two days. When my roommate arrived, she had to be quarantined for eight days, and my other roommate was quarantined for three days so people could get their test results at a really different time,” Batov said.

Restrictions related to COVID-19

The pandemic has disrupted many aspects of international exchange programs. For the fall semester, exchange students attending U of O took their classes from home.

“At the end of [fall] semester, I had a 1 to 3 a.m. exam,” Issartel said. “Otherwise I did well because I had asynchronous classes so I could manage my time even with jet lag.”

In a statement to Fulcrum, the University explained its decision to cancel the outgoing exchanges.

“[We are] acting alongside several other universities who are heeding Government of Canada advice to avoid non-essential travel. This collective decision was made to protect our student body and to reduce the spread and mutation of the virus. »

The release notes, however, that “incoming international students will continue to study online at least for the start of the winter term like other uOttawa students.”

U of O students have expressed disappointment that the University has chosen to allow students from abroad to complete their exchanges when their own exchanges have been cancelled. Students here on campus, however, have not been able to benefit from their experience so far.

Despite the current state of restrictions in the province, exchange students hope this term will offer them some semblance of normality.

“Generally it was doable, but I’m glad to be in the correct time zone. I think it will make a big difference to be in the country,” Batov added.

Chiara Pirouzi, a third-year student from Austria, is studying International Business Administration at the U of O’s Telfer School of Management. She eagerly awaits the opportunity to introduce a missing social aspect to her exchange.

“I’m already used to online classes, but of course I’d rather be on campus and meet a lot of people, so I’m glad it’s starting again soon,” Pirouzi said.

Since U of O classes won’t return in person until January 31, these exchange students have yet to experience regular life on campus, continuing their classes online.

Returning to in-person classes is both exciting and stressful for students.

“I’m a little excited because it’s been so long since I’ve been in person, but at the same time it’s stressful because I don’t know where to go and also because I don’t know if I’m going to be able to concentrate. and focus in the classroom,” Issartel said.

“I always really wanted to do a year abroad just for the experience of living somewhere else and seeing a completely different place,” Batov said. “It really pushes you out of your comfort zone.”

Out of school

Exchange students are excited to explore the campus and the city of Ottawa when lockdown restrictions ease.

“I want to experience Canadian university life,” Issartel said. “I’m excited to discover and explore the city and see the people.”

For exchange students, there are plenty of things to check off their to-do lists in Ottawa.

“Ottawa, because it’s the capital, has a lot to offer,” said Pirouzi. “Going to restaurants and bars is going to be really cool,” added Batov.

Avoiding the cold was a priority for many, but that didn’t stop exchange students from heading to the Rideau Canal to skate.

“Ice skating is the only thing I saw that I really wanted to try because the canal is such a unique thing in the city,” Batov said.

“I love ice skating, so the canal was really fun,” Pirouzi said.

As things start to open up again, exchange students will have the opportunity to have the experience they desire in Ottawa, by including these things on Pirouzi’s to-do list.

“I haven’t tried the poutine yet, which I have to do, and the beaver tails!”