Discover Studying Abroad

"We were grateful to have him back"- A parent talks about the impact of COVID19

What is it like to be a parent waiting for your child to return home as a disease sweeps across the globe, closing borders and flooding hospitals? Here is a first-person account.
BY Skendha Singh |   22-04-2020

BrainGain Magazine
A day in the life of Bath

Sending a child abroad for an education is perhaps as significant a decision for a parent as it is for a child. It is a decision founded on the hope for a better future, informed by concern for their well-being, and often accompanied by the pangs of separation.

But with the outbreak of COVID19, we can imagine that what most parents were consumed by was anxiety. BrainGain Magazine spoke to Tanisa Menon, whose son Aditya studies Politics and International Relations at the University of Bath, about their experience of the outbreak.

  1. What inspired Aditya’s choice of the degree and the university?

    Aditya has always been an avid follower of the international and national political scenario. He has a keen interest in the changes that affect economies when political stances, governments, and regimes change. Political Science, Civics and History were his favourite subjects since the junior grades and his interest only grew with the senior classes.

    In fact, before applying for his course he did a brief stint with the Congress party pursuant to his passion for politics and policy-making and how it impacts lives.

    Aditya applied to various colleges in the UK but none in the US. He felt he wanted to be closer to home. His final choice was the University of Bath, based on the course he wanted, and the smaller and beautiful city that Bath is, in comparison to bigger bustling cities. He felt it was a better fit for him than some of the other colleges that he was accepted at. The campus was also a pull for him as he preferred that to a college in a busy metropolitan city, functioning out of a building.

  2. What gave you an inkling that the epidemic would disrupt life as you knew it?

    BrainGain Magazine
    COVID19 outbreak at Bath

    Initially there was a trickle of information regarding a flu that had originated in China which was highly infectious, the veracity of which however was not getting confirmed by the WHO, nor the various governments. We as a family were watching the news but were not in any panic. However, as January rolled into February, and then March, and news of a global pandemic started gaining momentum and we saw countries struggling with rising casualties - we had an inkling that life was going to change.

  3. Did you take the call of bringing your son home or was it mandated by the university first?

    Two students at Bath were quarantined, and the college premises were getting disinfected. The college sent out an email reassuring parents about safety and hygiene precautions being undertaken at the campus. We were still not taking any action, but when there was news about international borders going into lockdown, and a 14-day quarantine announced for all passengers returning from target countries to India, we took the call and got Aditya back at our own behest [rather than waiting] for intimation from his college.

  4. It must have been a really worrying time. How did you deal with the stress and the logistical challenges?

    We had to move swiftly once we decided to get our son back and a return ticket had to be booked in the wee hours of the morning, India time. Aditya underwent a very stressful return, as he had to pack essentials and move within an hour from Bath to London Heathrow, wearing a mask, with two sanitisers in his jeans, his credit card, phone, passport, very little cash, and a lot of anxiety. He landed in Delhi, around 18 hours later, exhausted but relieved. Immigration at that time was a breeze, and we were grateful and happy to have him back in the nick of time.

  5. Did you feel that the university was adequately supportive? Are there any measures they could have taken/ resources they could have provided that would have helped you more?

    While at Bath, there was full support for the students in every capacity, including cessation of contact classes, once the cases in the UK started increasing.

    The university was not a hurdle to Aditya’s return either. His sudden departure was met with complete understanding and empathy on their behalf. They were well aware of the global situation and the Indian government’s quarantine.

    Two assignments which were due are being sent online to the college, and online classes will start after the Easter break.

  6. How are your children coping with remote studies? And with being at home so unexpectedly?

    As classes have not started yet, Aditya has given in one assignment and awaits further information from the college regarding resumption of online classes. Staying at home without any contact with friends or any social interaction is very difficult … but they are mature and understand the gravity of the situation, and have stepped up admirably.

  7. Also, how are you managing this situation as a parent?

    BrainGain Magazine
    The Menon family

    The corona virus has been an equaliser of sorts, levelling the playing field across the globe. And everyone is trying to cope to the best of their ability. As a home maker my personal challenge has been to keep the semblance of a routine at home and redistributing tasks amongst family members as part time help and staff are unable to come for work. There is nothing much to break the monotony and everyone’s work load has increased but so has family time. It has made us appreciate [things] more - each other, our planet, and the little joys and big advantages we take for granted. So far, it’s been manageable. However, the uncertainty and lack of a timeline is worrying, and if things continue like this for long, the pressure will start telling on everyone.

  8. Any tips for other parents who have faced or are in a similar situation?

    My tips would be: stay abreast of the real news - being informed is being armed; keep the spirit of the family up with positive messages; encourage family time and personal time; provide a structure at home and try and keep a routine; eat well, sleep well, and keep immunity up by exercising and encouraging your kids to do the same. Do not go all martial on the children but do insist on an orderly time to bed and also to wake up. Keep in touch with your friends and encourage the kids to do the same. Declutter. Make smart weekly menus that allow you to shop less frequently. Introduce any form of art into [your children’s] lives. Play board games, cook together. Be patient with the children and kind to yourselves. Be the example you wish them to emulate.


Can't Read  
Enter Above Code:


Sign Up for our newsletter

Sign Up for latest updates and Newsletter