To Travel During Covid or Not


With rising Covid cases around the world and even in Easthampton, this is a very tricky year for travel. Nobody knows that more than the global community of students who make up the Williston student body.

Tee Tesharojanasup, class of ’21, chose not to travel home during winter break to avoid infecting his grandparents.

“My parents would like me to travel as little as possible,” Tee, from Thailand, said. “My parents won’t be there when I get back, so I will have to stay with my grandparents, and I don’t want to expose them to more risk. The last time I saw them was in September last year [2020], and the next time I will see them is in the summer.”

According to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, there were 2,053,384 deaths as of Jan. 19, and more than 96 million global cases. There have been 400,000 deaths in the U.S. from Covid-19.

Tee said he was devastated about not being able to return home to see his family during the holidays. “I was homesick, and I couldn’t concentrate on hobbies, so I spent most of my time playing videogames.”

Mac Kongsomjit, class of ’21, has avoided travel ever since Covid started, and he does not plan on returning to Williston until March.

“I haven’t taken an in-person class since Covid broke out, so it’s almost been a full year since I’ve been at Williston,” he said. “I can’t go back to Williston until the start of [trimester three] because my parents are worried about me getting Covid. They’re scared that I’m going to be stuck in America with no place to stay if I get infected.”:

Mac said he really misses “getting food at the Stubop and hanging out with my friends.”

On the other hand, Anfisa Bogdanenko, class of ’21, who took three flights on her trip to campus, isn’t too worried about traveling during Covid.

“No really cares about Covid in Russia where I live.” Anfisa is from Vladivostok, Russia. “Many people don’t wear masks; the ones that wear masks do it because many stores require masks to enter. I don’t personally agree with that, but when I’m living in a place that doesn’t care about Covid, I get affected by it. I think that’s why traveling on my own during Covid wasn’t too concerning for me and my parents.”

To get to campus, Anfisa flew from Vladivostok to Moscow, Moscow to Istanbul, and finally to Boston. The length of the flights in total was about 23 hours, and in total she spent about 44 hours traveling and covered about 10,000 miles.

Although Anfisa has been taking online classes to avoid traveling, she realized that the online experience was not it for her.

“Since March, I’ve been doing online classes just to be safe. The time difference of 15 hours was very awkward, though. When classes start at 8:30 am in Easthampton, it’s 11:30 pm for me, so after one class, it would already be past midnight.”

For Sotaro Wakabayashi, a first-year sophomore, the benefit to being on campus is greater than to the risks of traveling.

“My parents were worried about me getting Covid, but they allowed me to travel since I enrolled at Williston for its environment,” Sotaro, from Japan, said. “I wouldn’t be taking full advantage of it if I weren’t there in person for the teachers, facilities, and academic resources,” Sotaro added.

Sara Johnson ’21 contributed additional reporting.