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ISU international student graduate Lamichhane deals with the COVID-19 Pandemic

May 7, 2020

Saroj Lamichhane

POCATELLO – Saroj Lamichhane, an Idaho State University international student from Nepal, is about 7,500-miles from his home in Katmandu and more than 2,000 miles from his home campus in Pocatello as he finishes out his undergraduate degree in communications this spring.

Lamichhane – a senior in communications, an Associated Students of ISU senator representing the College of Arts and Letters, Bengal newspaper ad manager and Idaho Museum of Natural History development intern ­– will graduate this semester. He moved to New York City during the pandemic to live with his brother, an international student at New York City College. This is not the final semester Lamichhane expected as he and other international students are facing special challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Right now, in New York City, I really feel so bad about the pandemic because it has affected me and international students like me. I was supposed to be graduating in May (with a ceremony),” he said.  “I feel really sorry because this is the most important, valuable time of my life – getting the degree, enjoying the graduation with my friends and family.”

Lamichhane has dealt with the situation as best he can and said he remains strong.

“About a week ago, I had a stress on my mind, you know, thinking ‘Is this really going on?’ ‘Is this a movie?’  ‘Is this really reality ‘ because I am not in Pocatello and I am an international student and I felt like I was dealing with some kind of anxiety,” he said.

“But I have tried to build up my self-confidence because I am not only a student, but also a student leader in the college. I do that to motivate myself first and take care of myself, but also so I can help other students as well.”

A bright spot during the pandemic has been the support of his family. He has been able to live with his brother.  This has helped him and also has helped alleviate the worries of his parents, who he communicates with frequently, which is easier in this online-connected world.

“Because I am with my brother my family has less stress than if we were in different places, with us two brothers living from the east to west coast,” he said. “It would have been really hard for them to keep track of us at the same time. My parents are happy we are together. If something happens to one brother the other brother can take care of the other.”

Though he is scheduled to receive his undergraduate degree, Lamichhane said he was worried about the next step in pursuing his education because of problems caused by the pandemic, a concern other international students have expressed.

He has had his graduate school application to ISU delayed because his scheduled Graduate Record Examination (GRE) was canceled because of the pandemic, and he didn’t know when it could be rescheduled. The GRE is required for entering graduate school. Lamichhane said he and other international students have been concerned about these types of delays in their paths to acquiring an education. 

However, he worked with ISU departments and its International Programs Office and has been accepted into the ISU communications master’s program.

“I’m very grateful for the help I received in being accepted to the master’s program,” he said. “I’m excited about continuing with ISU.”

Despite the challenges he has faced, Lamichhane said that throughout the pandemic he has been supported by ISU faculty, classmates and administrators. 

“Even though I am in New York, I feel like I am in Pocatello city because I get news and updates from the International Programs Office, like almost weekly, and that helps us survive this especially difficult time,” he said. “Even though I want to come to Pocatello city I cannot come because of this pandemic, I am grateful to the international office and their updates about the coronavirus.”

He also wished the Bengal nation well.

“I hope everyone else around the states stays safe, stays healthy and they take care of their  health first  --- wear gloves, wear masks and don’t go outside unless it is necessary,” he said.