“I’m a Chinese student in France. When will I see my family?”

Yanwei Zhang, 23, Nanjing (China)

I am doing a master’s in business management in Paris, France, but I am from Nanjing, China. Many of my Chinese friends, including my four housemates, went back home about a month ago. I decided to stay because I have already applied for summer internships in film production companies. I went through two rounds of interviews and I am now waiting on the final results. I am very passionate about French movies, so there is no better place than Paris for my internship. 

But this was a very difficult decision. I  haven’t been home since last August, when I moved to Paris. I had planned to visit at some point over summer, but now I have no idea of when I’ll be able to do so. I worry that if I go to China, I won’t be able to come back to France to continue my master’s program in the fall. I might have to wait until Christmas break to go home. 

This is not my first time living in a different country (during my undergraduate studies I did an exchange program in Singapore), but I have never been away for so long. I miss my grandparents especially. My aunt taught them how to use messaging apps and do video calls, so we try to keep in contact. They are staying home and living a happy life, and they always ask me not to worry about them. But it’s been over a year since I last saw them, and they are already in their 80s, so naturally I worry. 

The situation is better in China now. Back in December, when it first got critical, I was constantly worried about my family. But they all quarantined, so they managed to stay safe. I think it’s exactly because the lockdown measures were so strict that China is doing okay now — so many people already got back to work, including my father. So at the moment my family is more worried about me than I am about them.

But because I am staying home, I feel very safe. I also have lots of masks. My parents sent me some from China when the situation in Europe got serious, and I bought a few when people in Paris weren’t too concerned about the virus yet. The Chinese embassy has also provided Chinese nationals in France with a Covid kit, which includes 20 surgical masks, two N95 masks and some medicines. 

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