U of M international students facing deadline to move off campus

By | April 15, 2020

WINNIPEG — Around 600 international students who live on campus at the University of Manitoba have until the end of April to find a new place to live.

The school is clearing out residences to stop the spread of COVID-19. But with borders closed, some international students say they can’t return home.

“You don’t even know what you should do because you never know if something is going to change,” said criminology student and residence adviser Ishaanee Didwania.

The 21-year-old planned on heading back to Oman for the summer, but COVID-19 put her plans on pause and has also created financial pressure by forcing her to find a rental. 

“I’m going to have pay money for rent and international tuition is already three times regular tuition,” said Didwania. The criminology student is staying with a friend and is searching for work.

While Didwania has found a place, 19-year-old business student Ali Ateef Khan from the United Arab Emirates said he doesn’t know where he is going to go. 

“We’re international students. We don’t know anyone here. It’s difficult.” 

Khan said it’s hard to afford rent in Winnipeg. 

“It’s difficult to find a place within my budget. One bedroom apartments are around $1000/month. Staying on campus is way cheaper.” 

He also said it’s difficult to keep your distance while apartment hunting. 

U of M student residences director Barry Stone said the school is trying to be flexible and has granted around a hundred extensions. 

“Some (students) are indeed having difficulty making arrangements to go home as flights are few and far between or are being regularly cancelled,” Stone said. “Some need a few extra days and others are asking to stay for the entire summer. We are accommodating these requests as best we can.”

Nineteen-year-old Nigerian student Attate Okutinyang still lives in residence, but has found an apartment on campus. 

He studies kinesiology and plays on the Bisons Basketball team. Lately, he spends most of his time in his dorm. “It’s pretty tight. I go for walks to the cafeteria, they help a lot.”

Okutinyang said it’s been stressful living through a pandemic with no family in Winnipeg. 

“My parents call me every day, we pray together.” 

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