International student stays safe at Northern during pandemic

Photo of smiling international student

ABERDEEN, S.D. – Globally, a number of countries have tightened their borders and implemented travel bans due to COVID-19, forcing many students who were studying abroad this semester to end their travels prematurely. Some international students, however, have made the choice to stay abroad in the hopes of continuing their education. One such student at Northern State University is Matej Cip.

Cip is an international student at Northern from the Czech Republic. While many of Northern’s international students returned to their home countries when borders started to close, some students such as Cip chose to stay on campus during this unprecedented time.

“I was heavily debating if I should go back to the Czech Republic or not,” said Cip. “My family encouraged me to go home because it might be safer and I can be with them, but the U.S. border is closed right now, and we don’t know how much longer it will be like that. If I were to go back home, there is a chance that I wouldn’t be able to return to the United States for the fall semester, and I didn’t want to risk that.”

This last month and a half in quarantine has been hard for everyone, but without the presence of family or other networks of support nearby, it can be even more difficult. Cip has been maintaining that connection by calling his family back home on a daily basis. Even with daily calls, it was still hard for him to not be there in person for his family.

“At the beginning, there was a lot of uncertainty. The virus even made its way to our village, which was insane,” he said. “I had to try really hard not to think too much about it. Now, the numbers in the Czech Republic are going down, and we are all figuring out our own ways to stay safe.”

Among all of the stress and uncertainty, Cip said, this has also been a time for personal growth. With more time alone, he has gotten the opportunity to do a lot of self-reflection. For Cip, this means more time spent reading, meditating and focusing on the relationships that are important to him.

Cip has also been receiving support in Aberdeen in unexpected ways. He has been able to create a community with the other students who are still staying on campus as well as meeting regularly with his host family for meals and other quality time. It is important to him among all of the stress that he finds a silver lining and focuses on the good that will emerge from this situation.

About Northern State University

Northern State University is a regional university that offers outstanding academics and exceptional extracurricular activities at an affordable price on a safe, welcoming campus. Northern State recently announced its Educational Impact Campaign, with a goal of raising $55 million for a new South Dakota School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, new athletic and recreation fields, and an on-campus regional sports complex. Once the campaign is complete, NSU will be the recipient of more than $100 million in privately funded building projects and scholarships within a decade. To learn more, visit NSU Admissions.