Keeping Your Cool During a Crisis

Ella Wilton

Student at SOAS

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Read Time: 3 minutes

This year has thrown a spanner in the works for almost everyone’s travel plans and, unfortunately, it’s unlikely to be over any time soon. It’s never easy to deal with a crisis, but being smack-bang in the middle of a pandemic can make it even more scary and confusing, especially when you’re abroad or planning a big move.

In February 2020, I found myself in the first country outside of China to have a major outbreak of COVID-19: South Korea. As the virus continued to spread, I was called back to the UK by the government. I had a decision to make – do I stay or do I leave? I’m sure this sounds familiar to many people who were overseas at the start of this year, but how do you even begin to weigh-up a situation like this in order to make a decision?

If you find yourself in a similar situation, whether you’re overseas or just about to leave for your year abroad, here are five tips to help you deal with the uncertainty you may be feeling right now…

1) Speak to a family member or someone you trust.

This may seem obvious, but it’s important that someone at home knows what’s going on and, even if they might not be able to help directly, it’s comforting to have someone who you can talk to about your worries. It also means that if they can do anything to help in the future, they’ll already know about your situation and be ready to help.

2) Find someone who's going through the same thing.

If possible, talk to your peers and ask how they’re handling the situation. Having someone nearby who knows what it’s like or who’s going through something similar can be handy, and getting another perspective on dealing with it is invaluable. Two heads are always better than one!

3) Research your options

If your year abroad has been cancelled, are there any plans to reschedule it? If your university is telling you to come home, are you legally obliged to? Does your travel insurance cover your situation? What guidance is your home country’s government giving? Knowing your options will give you a lot more clarity and peace of mind.

4) Contact your university, employer, and/or travel agent

Stay in constant contact with the people who are coordinating and organising your time abroad. They will have access to what’s going on behind the scenes and they should be keeping up to date with any major issues that might impact your stay.

5) If all else fails, speak to the embassy

It’s good practice to know where your home country’s embassy is wherever you are staying and how to contact them. If you truly are in a crisis situation and have exhausted all other options, don’t be afraid to reach out to the embassy. They have a duty of care to make sure you’re safe and are able to get back home if there is a serious emergency with no other options – such as being stranded due to COVID-19.

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