Features

What It’s Like To Be An Exchange Student In A Country With No PH Embassy During The COVID-19 Crisis

It's tough to be away from family during uncertain times.
IMAGE Courtesy of Franchesca Regala

If there’s one thing we know about COVID-19 by now, it’s that even if not everyone gets infected, no one is safe against its repercussions. Frontliners are physically and mentally exhausting themselves to save lives and keep everyone else’s lives as normal as it can get, thousands are without work due to the necessary lockdown that would help stop its spread, and students are struggling to work towards their future while juggling it with the anxiety and tension brought about by the present pandemic. It’s not a good picture to paint.

While we may have our own national problems to face, there are other Filipinos stuck abroad facing the same threat as us. One such case would be Filipino international students who were supposed to spend a semester in a different country. Now that more and more countries are imposing lockdowns of their own and life as we all know it has been temporarily suspended, we can’t imagine what it must feel like to be all alone and away from your family in an unfamiliar place.

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

We got to talk to Franchesca Regala about her current situation in Europe amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. She is a European Studies major from Ateneo de Manila University who is currently a sophomore exchange student at Liepaja University in Liepaja, Latvia.

CONTINUE READING BELOW
Recommended Videos

Latvia is currently under a state of emergency.

“Liepaja City has never been the most hustle-and-bustle type of place, so I always thought of it as way laid-back compared to what I was used to in Katipunan,” Franchesca explains. “But now that Latvia’s been placed under a state of emergency, I didn’t think it would be possible, but it became even more quiet than it already was. The only stores that are open are groceries, the market, and some restaurants that have only a 7-person or less capacity or only offer takeouts.

“In terms of the COVID19 situation, since I am in Europe, lockdowns are extremely strict. Some of our neighboring countries have it far worse and I think the Latvian government is doing its best to make sure it doesn’t happen here. Most of the cases here in Latvia are in the capital, Riga, which is about three to four hours from where I live. However, there are at least 6 cases here in my city from what I last checked; but the statistics are fluid so it could have lessened or increased by now.”

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

Every day is a struggle to maintain a sense of “normal.”

“Every day, I get up late since the sun sets at around 9 to 10 p.m. and rises late, too. I’m not really used to this and it’s hard to adapt. I spend the day mostly cooking and doing the chores. I attend my online classes when I have to. I spend most of my free time either on Netflix or painting.

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

"When I start getting stir crazy, I go to Liepaja beach to meet up with friends. The Baltic Sea is one of the treasures Liepaja City holds. Every now and then, we also meet up to play some card games but we make sure to abide by the strict laws Latvia set in place for our own safety as well."

Despite the situation, classes remain ongoing.

“Most of my classes have been taken online. The Erasmus students I’ve met are either in the same department as I am or studying computer science. I think for the IT students, it’s a lot easier to host online classes. As for me, I’m struggling a lot and I’m sure this holds for other language majors, but I know that the university’s doing all it can. My Spanish professor holds conferences over Discord twice a week. My French professor gives out homework regularly over WhatsApp and so does my Latvian professor.

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

“For now, Latvia has extended its State of Emergency period to May 12, so until then, the lockdown continues and so do my online classes. After that, I will still resume my studies here. Since it’s my Erasmus semester, I am determined to finish it as to not have any issues with my grant and with getting my ECTs credited. Returning home is not really an option for me since I have more to lose and it will be extremely expensive given the limited flights.” 

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

It’s tough to be away from family during uncertain times.

“I’m far from my family so even if we communicate on a daily basis, I worry about them a lot. Since I have no close family here, they worry about me, too. Being abroad is tough in itself but being abroad in a country without a Philippine Embassy amid the COVID-19 crisis is something else. It forces you to really think only of what is absolutely necessary for survival and less about what you want.”

The only choice is to take it day by day.

“In general, I’m okay. I think I’m fortunate to know that I am safe. But some days it does get really lonely. I miss my family a lot and I think about how much better my Erasmus experience would have been if this had not happened.

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

"I think about my friends; most of my fellow Erasmus students have returned home a day before the airport completely shut down. I miss going to school and learning in class. I think it’s pretty obvious that learning three foreign languages through online education is not the easiest or the most conducive means, but it’s the only choice I have now. Overall, I’m just taking things day by day and looking forward to better days ahead.”

The situation will really stretch your perspective as a student.

“I know that the COVID-19 pandemic has been perhaps one of the toughest things we have faced collectively as a generation, but all hope is not lost. I think it’s important that, without going as far as to romanticize the whole situation, we carry with us the most crucial takeaways from this experience. It’s time’s like these when we can really take a step back and view things from a different and more broadened perspective.

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

"Indeed, our education is important, but it’s in times like these when we realize even more than getting a diploma or completing an exchange semester, it’s about how we use our education to breed a world of compassion. From the artists that give us entertainment as we stay in quarantine, to the frontliners during these tumultuous times, hopefully we students get to pay it forward in the future.” 

For more COVID-19 stories, click here.

***

Candy Bulletin is finally here! If you're an aspiring writer, vlogger, artist, or kahit marami ka lang talagang time, submit your entries here and make your mark in the Candy community! Share your feels, show your skills. Don't worry—we won't judge. ;)

Get the latest stories on COVID-19.
All you need to know from your trusted Summit Media network. Sign up here for regular updates delivered to your mailbox.
The email address you entered is invalid.
Thank you for signing up. We'll send updates directly to your inbox!
your REACTION
CUTE

0

HEART

0

OMG

0

YAY

0

/////////////////////////////
COMMENTS. JOIN THE DISCUSSION BELOW!
Comments
About the author
Franchesca Regala, As Told To Mylene Mendoza
VIEW OTHER ARTICLES FROM Franchesca Regala, As Told To Mylene Mendoza

Candy Bulletin

Welcome!
What're you up to today? Submit your OOTD, fanfic, essay, school project, org event, a pic of your latest hobby, or anything you want to be posted on the Candy Bulletin page!
Reminder: Posts will be subject for approval by the Candy team, and may be shared on our online channels. Plagiarism and copyright infringement are strictly prohibited. Only original work must be submitted.
Hi, you!
*1st 15 seconds will be uploaded
*File size limit (up to 60MB)
*File size limit (up to 60MB)
or
Upload Video
*For the direct video upload option, only the first 15 seconds of the video will be uploaded
*File size limit (up to 60MB)
Photo
Video
SoundCloud

By submitting your post, you agree to Candymag's Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

Thank you for submitting your post.
You will be notified via email once your entry has been approved by the Candy team.

Submitted posts will be subject to the approval of the Candy Team.

A few reminders:

  1. Candy Bulletin is an online platform where users can upload original work, personal passion projects, and other forms of self-expression, for the purpose of sharing with the community.
  2. You can upload photos of your curated OOTDs, 15-second videos, essays, poems, and more, as long as the submitted work is original, follows copyright laws, and free of any nudity, pornography, or profanity.
  3. You are encouraged to comment on one another's posts, as long as everyone remains respectful.
Submit Another Post
latest on CandyMag.com
 
x
Share
Many expressed concerns against the possibility of the bill being used to suppress any criticism made against the government.
 
x
Share
We may not be known for science, but the Philippines has made some remarkable contributions to the field.
 
x
Share
 
x
Share
If we really have to sacrifice sleep, we'll have to choose wisely what we're sacrificing it for.
 
x
Share
 
x
Share
Get to know more about the beloved Hallyu star before his new K-drama drops on Netflix this June!
LOAD MORE ARTICLES
Bulletin
A community page where you can share your feels and show your skills! Learn more here

"Today, I Won"

I always caught feelings for someone, and hoped so much that one day there could a thing between the two of us. I'm usually the one that makes the effort to buy and/or make cute gifts, chats them every other day, and stays up all night with him.

When I was 16, my childhood crush suddenly came back into my life. We'd constantly send updates to each other, recommend favorite songs and talk even the most random things. He'd even text me as early as 6 to just greet me good morning almost everyday. I hoped so much that when I confessed, he suddenly stopped talking to me.

For short, he ghosted me. Those 6 months I spent talking to him, allotting my time for him, and staying up until 3 am for him - all gone in a simple confession. Although I had a few crushes before him, he's the only one that got me in real pain. It was the kind of pain that I never thought I'd experience. It was the kind of pain that I couldn't believe.

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

After 7 years (it happened back in 2017), I thought he came back into my life to stay, but I guess he's just one of the guys who distanced. I felt a complete loser that time. But during this quarantine, everything was different. I caught feelings for someone else, but he treated me with the best kindness yet.

CONTINUE READING BELOW
Recommended Videos

It happened at 2 am, May 30, 2020, when I impulsively confessed my feelings through messaging him. After saying my feelings, he responded with genuine and kind words. We both even complimented each other. Although the feelings didn't reciprocate, I still found a connection that can't be replaced with any guy.

To my 16 year old self, here I am, 18 and happy. You may have felt that time was the biggest regret and loss, but I'm here to tell you, we won. Today, I won.

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW
Juliana Rebong 7 hours ago

Why our high school barkada is the best?

Remembering our high school years entails quite a lot reminiscing of the things we all been through when we were younger. You’ve experience a lot of new things during those 4 wonderful years and did most of them with the few people you consider your barkada. And through a series of all the lunch breaks you had together, the walks you took on the way home, and taking the same classes, you never thought you’d survive, you have made your life’s greatest friends.

Here are some of the reasons why your high school barkada is the best:

1. You figured out early teenage life together. The transition one have undergone from being a kid to a teenager wasn’t easy. For a moment you are not sure whether you should have played with your friends during recess or you should have just sat down and ate your food because you were too old for games. But whatever it is you chose to do, having friends who were as clueless as you make everything feel easier because you know, deep down, you’d figure things out eventually. You just need good company.

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW
CONTINUE READING BELOW
Recommended Videos

2. They were with you during your “jeje“ days. I bet you have pictures taken with Camera360 and Retrica. You also have pictures edited using Pizap with embarrassing captions and you somehow kept some of them so you could have something to post online during their birthdays.

3. They know all your exes. They will never EVER forget the name of an ex-boyfriend, an ex-fling, an ex-crush, and an almost you had. They will remind you of your every questionable love decision but you’ll just laugh anyway while saying “Past is past”.

4. They never judge you. They have welcomed you to their lives when you thought jelly shoes and checkered polos were the bomb! They were quick to have told your teachers that you were not feeling well so you could go home when you really just needed to poop. You tell them every embarrassing story you have and were fine with it.

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

5. You can always count on them. From the moment you first fell in love and the moment you first had your heart broken, they were with you. They were with you the moment you lost a parent and at moments when you thought you had nothing. Through every break-up and breakthrough, they were there to be your support system.

6. They are your family. Your high school friend’s family is your own family’s extension. Their parents are like your own. Don’t you feel a little kilig whenever your friend’s parents call you “anak”? And then eventually calling them mama and papa became so natural? I felt that, all the time.

7. They will always be your home. They are your place of refuge and security, the place who offers you their hands when you feel lost and the place you run to when you need saving. No matter how much time and distance separate you, they will be the one’s that you always long for and they are the one’s that you will always return to.

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

your REACTION
Pick a sticker to view stories by reaction!
/////////////////////////////
CONNECT WITH US