International student Pat Mueller spent just days on U.S. soil before making the long flight back to Germany in March moments before the borders closed amid a global pandemic.
"I had around two and a half days from normal life in the US and everything was fine to sitting at the airport with the feeling I would be home in 36 hours," he said.
Mueller is one of several international students in the United States who had to leave due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tuesday, past and present Dickinson State University international students like Mueller shared their experiences during the pandemic from their home countries as part of the Global COVID Experience forum.
Austin Oliver experienced multiple layovers and flight cancellations on his way home from Dickinson to Pakistan.
"Multiple times my flight was cancelled, and I was informed 'You're not going today or the day after tomorrow, and we will give you an update for your flight.' I think it was informed two days before my flight, and I had to pack my things in a short period of time," he said.
At the time, there weren't any flights to and from Pakistan - except for repatriations.
"Everyone was wearing masks. In the flight, our hostess were dressed like they were scientists ... Not even a single hair of the flight attendants were visible; they were that much covered," Oliver said. "The way our hostess were dressed, I felt like I'm going to space, not to Pakistan."
Vanessa Okosun, who lives in Nigeria, wasn't in the U.S. during the pandemic. She shared her frustrations from home.
"The pandemic has been frustrating, depressing," she said. "My eldest sister was supposed to travel down to Nigeria for her wedding, but due to the pandemic, the wedding was postponed … We’re thinking maybe next year."
Another sister of hers was going to visit, but she was stuck in a neighboring country because Nigeria's whole border was closed.
Okosun spent most of her time locked in her house, as her mother was afraid her daughter would get the virus.
Rojin Karahan from Turkey is pursuing her master's degree in occupational therapy in the United Kingdom. It took a month and a half for her visa application to be approved, and she was supposed to travel Tuesday.
"I couldn't due to COVID," she said. "When I went to the airport, they told me that I can't due to my high temperature. I didn't think I had (a) high temperature. When they measured it was 40 Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) ... When I came home, my temperature was actually 36 (96.8 degrees Fahrenheit). Right now, I'm going to a hospital to take a test and make sure that I don't have COVID."