(set: $name to (prompt: "What is your name",""))
Just like 80 percent of international students in the United States, your primary source of funding is your family back home.
You have a 3.5 GPA and a job at the campus dining hall to pay for pocket expenses.
March rolls over and the number of COVID-19 cases increase exponentially worldwide.
[[Continue]](set: $day to 10)
(set: $balance to 0)
Welcome to our game where you get to make choices as a fourth-year foreign exchange student amid the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States.
You start with $1500 in your account.
[[Start Game |Intro]](set: $day to 10)
(set: $balance = $balance + 1500)
The date is March (print: $day), 2020. You know airports are closing globall and you see the situation getting worse.
If you leave the U.S. right now, you will be with your family back home, safe and healthy.
The flip side, however, is that you don't know if you will be able to return to the U.S. since your visa expires and embessies and consulates are closed indefinitely.
As of now, you have $(print: $balance) in your account
[[Stay]]If you choose to return home right now, you don't know when you'll be able to return to the U.S. You'll have to wait until embassies and consulates reopen.
Once they reopen, there might be several people applying so the refusal rate might be higher.
Change your mind and [[Stay]]
You chose to stay! According to Inside Higher Ed, about 15 percent of all international studying in the U.S. returned home due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
[[continue]](set:$day = $day + 15)
(set: $balance = $balance - 100)
It's March $day.
Like most other universities, your university decides to move to online instruction. This means that you can't work at the dining hall anymore.
As a non-U.S. Citizen, you cannot work off-campus, however, in some cases, students violate this rule and work in order to pay for housing. If you're caught, your immigration status may be impacted.
The local Walmart is hiring temporary staff to get through the COVID-19 pandemic.
You have $(print:$balance) in your account.
[[I'll risk it and earn some money]]
[[No, I'll stick to the rules and take things as they come]]Be careful! Avoid university officials and immigration officers who might be on the lookout of students working without authorization and documentation. The good news is, you'll have enough money to make rent for next month.
According to an NBC article, 35 international students were caught in Washington, working without paperwork, after their university campuses were shut down.
[[Got it!]]Good you stuck to the rules! You can at least move about without having to hide anything from law enforcement officials.
[[Next]](set: $balance = $balance + 500)
You got lucky! Immigrations and Customs Enforcement didn't catch you working without documentation.
Account balance: $(print:$balance)
[[Next!]](set:$day = $day + 20)
It's day (print:$day). Your rent's due! It's probably a good idea you took up the Walmart job, you can make rent.
[[Phew. Continue!]] (set:$day = $day + 20)
It's day (print:$day). Your rent's due! You have enough money saved up to cover for this month, but next month might be a problem.
[[Phew. Continue!]](set:$day = $day + 30)
(set: $balance = $balance - 600)
On day (print:$day), you realize banks back home were shut down. You have to survive with what you have.
A friend of yours offers you the couch in their parents' house. According to a New York Times articles, that's where some students ended up.
(set: $day = $day + 45)
(set: $balance = $balance - 200)
You've been saving money living with your friend.
According to a New York Times report, that's what a lot of students ended up doing.
Balance: $(print: $balance)
[[Continue...]](set: $balance = $balance - 300)
You'll still have to continue to pay rent.
Balance: $(print: $balance)
[[Continue...]](set: $day = $day + 60)
The date is May 15! Congratulations — you'll be graduating tomorrow! You were supposed to go back home next week. However, with COVID-19, your home country has banned air travel. According to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, you have a "grace period" of 60 days for which you can stay in the U.S. However, you lose your visa status after that.
You can apply for a visa extension, however, this can cost money. And according to USCIS, the denial rate for applications is 26%.
You can wait and see what happens, hopefully borders reopen soon and you'll be able to go home.
[[Apply for an extension]]
[[Hope things get better]](set: $balance = $balance - 455)
The Washington Post reported that several European countries such as Germany and the U.K. implemented blanket visa extensions until the pandemic ends.
After applying for an extension, your balance is $(print:$balance).
You have to wait for two weeks before hearing back from USCIS.
[[Wait]]Hopefully things get better and you can go home within the next two months. If not, you will be out of your student visa status.Good news! You sucessfully got your visa extended for six months. However, during the period, you're not legally allowed to work in the U.S. You have to live off your savings.When you go home, you have to deal with the time difference and stay up till late working on class work.
A New York Times feature reported that a Yale University, Sam Brakarsh, a student from Zimbabwe went home, he realized that internet in his parents’ home works for only three hours a day.
[[Next...]]But the good thing is you're with your parents. You don't have to worry about finances — and in this uncertain time, you have your support system with you.
However, you've left your life in the U.S. for you don't know how long. You don't know when you'll be able to reenter the country — and when you'll get to see your friends.