Caribbean students stuck in Ja homesick

March 25, 2020
The University of the West Indies, Mona Campus.
The University of the West Indies, Mona Campus.
Ramal Carbon would rather be home in Dominica.
Ramal Carbon would rather be home in Dominica.

Coming to Jamaica was supposed to be a time of educational and cultural exchange for regional students. However, following the outbreak of COVID-19, some regional students who reside on the Mona campus of The University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona, feel as though they have been trapped in a strange place with little to no hope as to when they will return home.

All schools have been closed since March 13.

According to information provided by the International Students Office, there are currently 15,000 students enrolled at the UWI Mona, representing various Caribbean countries.

Some got a chance to leave for home; however, others are hoping they can leave before things get any worse.

"I did not know things would have escalated as quickly as it did so I made the decision to go home last week but there were no flights," said Ramal Carbon, a final-year student from Dominica.

Carbon says he is uncertain of the magnitude of the virus and he would prefer to be where he deemed to be a safe heaven.

"I miss my parents so much. I talk to them four times a week and they have been wanting me to come home. I'm going home first available opportunity. I want to be where I'm more comfortable and with the people I love," he said.

The information technology major added that he's familiar with Kingston so he is able to get around.

He also has a few family members who are willing to assist him if things spiral out of control.

"Right now, I have some family here that has been very helpful, and I have them if I get into any situation that is more than I can manage. I get around easily, too, because I have been in Jamaica for a while," he said.

However, Jeremiah Augustus had always found it challenging to get around, and now it is even more difficult with the campus being in a state of complete lockdown.

"It becomes a bit frustrating even when school was in session. Now that school is out, my immediate friends that I usually call on are not here, and I'm not comfortable to wander off campus to get certain stuff in light of this coronavirus. Back home, I would be able to move around," he said.

The Vincentian, who is currently pursuing his degree in medical sciences, told THE STAR that he hasn't been home since 2018, but decided to remain in Jamaica because it was very risky to travel. But now he is somewhat homesick.

"I was planning to go home in July, but if I get a chance I would leave now. I just want to go home but I can't because they lock the airport," he said. "I try to be as ok as possible because I have to understand that I'm not home. I stay away from people and do what was advised to keep myself safe."

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