Luisa Popp of Heidelberg, Germany, and Shali Sheridan of Faith, S.D. were just like any other college student in March, enjoying their college apartments and making plans for the upcoming summer. Two months later, their plans were sidelined as they instead paid for an empty, unoccupied apartment miles away from their homes.
Thousands of college students across the country left their campuses and returned to their hometowns as face-to-face classes were canceled for the remainder of the semester amid coronavirus concerns. While some things have changed, including the way students attended class, others remained much the same — such as rent being due.
“I wish I didn’t have to pay for rent if i’m not there, but that’s the way that we’re able to keep our apartment and we also just renewed the lease,” Popp said, as she currently resides in her hometown of Heidelberg over 4,500 miles from Dickinson. “It’s not really a good feeling.”
While the United States is slowly beginning to loosen its COVID-19 restrictions and re-open, Germany remains much like the rest of Europe in its active mandates surrounding public safety, resulting in difficulties in obtaining employment and by proxy paying for rent.
“Right now, I want to go to work but I can’t because the stores are still closed and one household can only meet another household, you can’t meet any more people than that,” Popp said. “It’s really hard, I’m relying on my parents but I do feel bad about it because usually I’m working and I’m able to pay my rent with that money.”
Popp added, “I was lucky that I worked as a tutor at DSU so I continued working until the semester was over, but then I was planning on working in Germany and it’s just really hard to find a job because they aren’t really looking for anybody right now.”
The situation is not just affecting students from out of the country, but also those that are closer to home.
Sheridan, while only being 160 miles away from her hometown, decided to leave Dickinson in April. The distance may be less, but the stress of having an unoccupied apartment is just the same.
“It’s kinda weird, I just feel like I have a lot of loose ends,” Sheridan said. “It just feels like there is just unfinished stuff going on and all my stuff is there and I just feel really uneasy about having everything there and no one is there.”
Sheridan is currently working construction in Faith and is continuing to be paid by Dickinson State University’s student workers program, which is helping pay for the rent while she is living at home.
“It’s really hard to coordinate things, because I actually moved from my apartment to a house with a couple other people and I still have things there because the lease isn't up yet so I had to double up the pay because it’s like i’m moving stuff and I’m selling stuff,” Sheridan said. It’s just been so stressful to have everything else in a different spot.”
Fortunately, for Popp and Sheridan, being with family and having family support, physically, mentally and financially is all they need to continue to stay positive.
“My friends and family have been getting me through this,” Popp said. “I know it’s not just me being in that situation, I know it’s everybody, but just talking to a lot of people … just staying positive.”
Sheridan held similar sentiments.
“I haven’t been home for this long since I graduated from high school, so I spend a lot of time with my family, they helped me out a lot and I guess we’ve all just kind of been taking it day-by-day.”
The Dickinson State Student employment, as stated on the Dickinson State website, allows students to work on campus and earn money to help pay for educational expenses. Students are paid hourly and are directly deposited into their banking accounts on the 15th and last day of each month. For more information, contact the Human Resources Office at 701-483-2476.