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Kezia Tjahjanto

Kezia Tjahjanto lived in China and Malaysia before her dream of being accepted at a University in the U.S. came through with an acceptance to Calvin University.  Kezia discusses making decisions about her education in light of COVID-19 and policies for International Students.  

This interview is part of our series International Students Speak created to give an inside look at how policies impact real people on the ground.  

OSJ: COVID-19 and recent immigration announcements changed your educational plan.  Can you tell us about that?  

KT: I decided to stay in Indonesia.  Actually I wanted to go back to the U.S. but I think I slowly started to just let go one by one of those plans because I feel like I only have a slim chance to get a flight out of Indonesia and return. After the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency statement I had even more hard choices. If I go to the U.S. and then they start doing online classes, I would lose my visa status and would have to re-apply all over again.  At that point my parents said, that there’s a chance they can deport you and then you have to pay double for the flights as well. 

OSJ: So what does school look like for you in the coming year?  

KT: I will be online.  I'm definitely excited because I feel bored but I'm also nervous. Just having group work or discussions - it's really hard. Even when they say we can join the class directly it's not the same because we cannot ask questions in the same way. The professor would definitely pay more attention to the class than her computer so it's pretty hard. 

OSJ: What happens if this continues?  

KT: Oh, I hope it doesn't happen again next year. I would consider doing online classes again for the spring semester and then coming back in the fall semester in person. Because even if I wanted to just skip my spring semester, I don't have a degree to work. I don't have any experience. It's pretty hard for international students to get summer jobs.  You don't know anybody to get a job like the domestic students do here in Indonesia. Like you can work at a restaurant or McDonald's for a short timeframe but I’d rather stay home than to work at McDonald's I guess.  It's a very different system. Yes, it's true.

OSJ: What was it like when you were in person at Calvin?

KT: Sometimes, as an international student I have a very different perspective. In America people forget that some people don't come from the US and some people have different backgrounds, different stories, and different perspectives.  It's fair that we talk about America because we're living in America, but I think sometimes you can talk about the world outside of America. Right?

After an experience at an apple farm I started to have the confidence of introducing fellow students to foods and asking them about their opinion about things.Then I would open up about how our political things are so different from America and those little steps I guess made me closer to them. 



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