by Jasmine Gill

“No one is here to help me; it is awful,” Rohtaj Sohi. 

Rohtaj Sohi, International student.

Rohtaj Sohi is an international student studying Electrical Engineering at Cambrian college. He says ever since the last lockdown in Ontario, he lost his part-time job. Sohi is now working with a warehouse that pays him below minimum wage. 

“They make me work more and pay very little, but I have to; I don’t have any other option.” 

Dr. Irina Valentin, Clinical and Neuropsychologist, says There is quite an increase in mental health issues ever since the pandemic started. 

The pandemic has made a difficult situation for everybody, especially students.

On 1st April, Premier Doug Ford announced a four-week province-wide shutdown, starting the following weekend. 

“Friends, right now we’re into the third wave of COVID-19. The variants of concern are spreading rapidly. This is a new pandemic. We’re now fighting a new enemy”, Ford.

As the province goes into another shutdown, Sohi has to continue working to pay his rent and other necessities. 

Sohi is not the only one; international students around the country are struggling. 

“Many international students generally struggle to have support from others, build a relationship, learn the culture, adjust, and because of all these lockdowns, the struggle has doubled and made it impossible for international students to have social support. This is now leading to have feelings of being more isolated and have depressed and anxious thoughts”, Dr. Valentin.

Muskan Kaur, International student.

Muskan Kaur, a student of interior designing at Cambrian college, belongs to a lower-middle-class family in India. Her family depends on her financially. Kaur says due to the shutdown, her employer closed the restaurant, and her survival in the city has become more challenging.

“My fee is going to be due soon for next semester, and I have to pay that on my own. I don’t know how I will pay that and my other basic expenses with no job.”

The shutdown is impacting students not only financially but mentally as well. The stress of not able to pay for necessities is taking over their mental health. International Students who came from less developed countries usually don’t have anybody who pays tuition. They rely on part-time jobs, and because Toronto has been on lockdown, they cannot support themselves. They need social support as they are detached from their families. 

Dr. Valentin says receiving social support has become more complex now.

“International students who support their families back home, pay tuition or lost their job are struggling psychologically.” 

She says it is very important to create online support; there are many online groups.

She also advises students to reach out to the online group or create one if they cannot find it, have regular communication with friends. 

Most importantly, She recommends students should vent out their feelings; it is crucial when dealing with psychological problems.

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