International Students in the Gulf Cope With the Stress of Isolating in Dorms

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At Qatar University, students Hamza Kamal (left) and Abdul Razzaq Abdullah Shuaib have to learn distance learning and preventive measures to adjust the dormitory (photo taken by Eman Kamel).

The first semester of Mohamed Dukan, a Turkish student at Doha-Qatar University, was difficult. As a new student, he must adapt to living away from his family in a university dormitory abroad.

Just as he adjusted to his new university life and met his roommate, Covid-19 cases soared in Qatar and a total lockdown was imposed.

"I had to stay in the house for 24 hours. Dukan said. "I was depressed. I don't think I want to do anything. Sometimes, I can't even get up or take online courses. "

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, living in a student apartment was a way to build social bonds and relieve the feeling of homesickness, especially for freshmen like Dukan.

Now, as many universities in the Bay Area choose to study mixed or full-time online, many aspects of the student experience have changed, including accommodation.

Mohammed Siddig Magzoob, acting director of the Student Counseling Center at Qatar University, said that due to the pandemic, students generally feel increasingly anxious about their health and future. However, international students in Qatar have more sources of stress.

Magzob said: "International students worry about their future and whether it is possible to go on vacation to visit their parents, while those who travel worry about not being able to return to Qatar due to travel restrictions."

Magzoob also noticed that the students were bored because they could not leave the dormitory or even eat.

As part of the program to contain the spread of the virus, Qatar University requires local students to move back with their families, while international students are required to evacuate. The person in charge, Hassan Ali Hassan (Hassan Ali Hassan) said that students who cannot go home due to flight restrictions, and students who cannot continue to study online in their home country due to poor Internet connection or other reasons are exceptions. Department of Male Housing, Qatar University.

As a result, the occupancy of housing was reduced, and students moved from double rooms to separate rooms. In public places such as restaurants and student lounges, tables have been rearranged to maintain a safe distance between students.

Universities in the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Kuwait have taken similar measures.

Samer Jamil Radwan, a professor of clinical psychology at Nizwa University in Oman, said that due to the pandemic, most students suffer from anxiety and worry about the future just like everyone else in the community.

According to Radwan, there is no regular psychological support program for students living on campus, but some publicity activities for students are generally carried out online, and the university continues to provide counseling services for those in need.

During the peak of the pandemic, students are not allowed to receive tourists from outside their residences, and they can only leave the dormitory for one hour a week to buy what they need.

"I feel depressed most of the time and have no motivation to work," said Dr. Hamza Kamal. Student of the Faculty of Engineering, Qatar University. "It turns out that my symptoms are caused by my lack of vitamin D when I spend most of the time in the sun."

But staying in the dormitory during the pandemic is not a negative experience for everyone.


, A company that owns and manages student housing communities in the United States, even if all courses are online in the fall, during the fall semester, it still provides good academic and social results for students living on or near the university campus. Company officials attribute the findings to the feeling that community students feel when living with other students on or near campus.

Mukhtar Abdulaziz, an Algerian student at Qatar University, agreed.

He said: "At first I felt lonely when I moved to a separate room, but since we all live in the house, we have to meet in the restaurant during meal and prayer times." "This gives us the opportunity to interact with colleagues. It reduces loneliness and takes up spare time between lectures."

"An important part of the university experience is the close interaction with peers, faculty and staff. Many international students living in on-campus dormitories feel lonely and homesick."

Independent wattage  

Maintaining a sense of community is the main challenge faced by student dormitory staff

, Its education city complex contains eight western university campuses and a Qatar graduate school.

Indee Thotawattage, student life manager at Northwest University in Qatar, said: “An important part of the university experience is the close interaction with colleagues, faculty and staff.” She said: “Many international students living in campus dormitories are experiencing loneliness and homesickness.”

In order to help students staying in the campus stay in touch, the Qatar Foundation and Qatar University's student accommodation staff chose virtual activities such as virtual iftar rituals during Ramadan, online yoga classes, game classes and online competitions.

In addition to working hard to improve the mental health of students, some universities such as Qatar University and Zayed University in the United Arab Emirates also carry out regular inspections in order to detect the coronavirus early among students living on campus.

Abdulaziz is annoyed that these tests provide students with a sense of peace of mind.

He said: “Performing regular Covid-19 tests on houses will give people a sense of being in a safe and healthy environment, which allows us to move around the house with confidence.”

Today, Qatar has passed the peak of the first wave of pandemics, the country’s restrictions have been eased, student housing has also been eased, and students have gradually realized how to move around while staying safe.

Abdul Razzaq Abdullah Shuaib, a Ghanaian student at the University of Qatar, said: “Unexpected changes were hard to tolerate at first.” “Now, we are used to distance learning and adapted to preventive measures with the support of housing staff, but classes are held on campus. Still the best part of my college experience."

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