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International College Students Still Stranded In U.S. As Coronavirus Travel Bans Continue

GARDEN CITY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- The coronavirus pandemic sent some college students packing two months ago, but not all of them could get home to their families.

Some international students who were studying in our country are still living alone on shuttered campuses.

This would have been a busy week on college campuses -- finals, then graduation -- but instead Abie Rawad Akhand has the place nearly to himself.

After Adelphi University and college around the nation abruptly shut down at the end of March, the 23-year-old senior is essentially stranded.

"I am from the country Bangladesh. The country has temporarily halted international travel," Rawad told CBS2's Carolyn Gusoff.

He's one of 32 international students still living in Adelphi dorms. Hundreds of others are off-campus with friends or family.

But Rawad's family is a world away.


With borders closed, flights grounded and no car, he spends his days buried in school work, grateful for the one cafeteria open for take-out and trying, he says, not to feel like a caged animal.

"It's all just very isolating in here. It's just me," he said.

He's also trying not to panic about his dwindling bank account. The jobs that paid his way through college also vanished.

"Down to my last, what, $196, I reckon," Rawad said. "Altogether, I lost three jobs in the span of two hours."

Fellow students with the university's international services team are helping with visas and emotional support.

"They were hopeless. They were stressed, depressed, they didn't know what to do," Adelphi sophomore Anastasia Fesenko said.

While they can't congregate, they can unite. Adelphi holds weekly Zoom chats, virtual office hours and even movie nights.

"We are making sure that students are safe. We're making sure that students stay connected," said Wendy Badala, director of international services. "We and they are are here for each other."

CORONAVIRUS: NY Health Dept. | NY Call 1-(888)-364-3065 | NYC Health Dept. | NYC Call 311, Text COVID to 692692 | NJ Health Dept. | NJ Call 1-(800)-222-1222 or 211, Text NJCOVID to 898211 | CT Health Dept. | CT Call 211

While the future for students nationwide is hazy, the future is here at Adelphi. Dorms close for the semester on May 19.

"I do not really have any concrete plans on what to do after that," Rawad said.

"The university is going to work with each student individually to make sure that they have somewhere to go," Badala said.

But Rawad, a top student who had plans to stay on for an MBA, now has no idea how he'll now pay for it. No one had planned for this.

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