【明報專訊】Last week, 13 cases of COVID-19 were recorded on my university campus, more than the daily total in Hong Kong. If we have more than 100 cases within a two-week period, in-person learning will have to move online. Despite that, college life has been more ''normal'' than I imagined. Having moved out of quarantine, I have been attending classes, meeting new people, living with my roommate and going out with friends. This comes with restrictions of course, such as mask-wearing, getting tested for COVID twice a week, not being able to get closer than six feet to most people, closed gyms and libraries, very limited indoor dining space, and any violation of COVID rules can be reported to the school... Like everything else at the moment, my university is half of what it normally is; a campus experience that is just enough to get you excited about leaving high school, but it can be nothing more than a tentative imitation of the ''real'' college experience.
Is it worth it then? What is the point of studying abroad when everything is online or cancelled? Surely overseas universities are now just de facto online universities? For some, the costs might outweigh the benefits at this time. After all, while programs and activities have reduced in scope and number, fees have not. I have to admit that in the last few days I have wondered that maybe I could have just stayed at home, at least for this semester. I could have at least saved money from plane fares, rent and food. But ultimately, being on campus with million-dollar infrastructure, being immersed in a diverse and dynamic community, experiencing life in a different country beats being cooped up at home for another three months; the fundamental elements of studying abroad are still there. That said, I hope fervently that this will all be temporary. My patience for Zoom is running out...
Alice is a freshman at Cornell University intending to major in Economics and Computer Science, having previously studied in the UK for six years. A lover of languages, she studies French, Italian, Japanese and picks up bits of other languages when she can.