Story by Lanyang Zhou, MURP 2020
Master of Urban and Regional Planning

Under the threat of Covid-19, Ball State closed, and all the classes were transferred to online. As an international student, this caused a big change to my life in the US as well as for the other international students.

As a student from China, where the disease was first detected, I had access to the information from both China and America, so the situation seemed more complicated for me. In the first two months of 2020, which was the worst time for the epidemic in China, like many Chinese international students, I was worried about the Chinese situation and shared the nervous emotion with all the Chinese people. At the same time, I got a chance to know the harm of the coronavirus, so when the virus started to spread in the US, I was more nervous than my classmates. I was hoping the school would take-action to protect everyone on campus, but I also worried if school closed, what I would do and where I would live.

In the middle of March when the situation became worse in the US, the university shut down and many international students chose to go back to their home countries. I had this concern as well, but after comparing expenses and the limited number of airline tickets, along with the higher possibility to get the virus on my way home and the relatively safe life in Muncie, I chose to stay in Muncie to continue my study.

The situation in Indiana was not very bad; staying at home would be enough to protect people from the virus. However, for most of the international students, one of the challenges from the virus was the access to the grocery because many of us do not have a car. Public transportation was the primary choice for us to go to the grocery store, but using buses enhanced the possibility of exposure to the virus. Luckily, my friends and the faculty at the college generously offered to take me to the stores, resolving the problem.

The online classes gave me more freedom to manage my time, but they also reduced my chance to communicate with professors and my classmates. It also created difficulties with group assignments that needed lots of communication. Because the shut-down happened in a short period of time, most of the face-to-face courses became recorded lectures from professors. The advantages of this was that students could determine the speed of the class to suit their understanding process, but it was more difficult to achieve the quality of the normal in-person classes because communication was not easily available. For this issue, it was helpful to ask professors questions by email actively, since communication difficulties were a hardship that we needed to overcome together. Writing this during finals week, it seemed like we all made the best of the situation and hopeful the worst of the virus has passed us by.


Now that the semester is over, I am working for the City of Muncie as a GIS intern. I’m able to login remotely to do my work at the office. Society is slowly starting to get back to normal, many companies have reopened and people are returning to work. The number of identified cases is still growing, but I am not as anxious about it as before. We will live with it for a while, but we will conquer it in the end.