The COVID-19 has hit us, humans, badly with dire consequences for the world. With more than 960,000 deaths and 31 million cases, most governments in the world are taking preventive measures to ensure the safety and well-being of its people. Inevitably, airplanes being grounded and other travel restrictions have affected more than a thousand lives stranded in foreign countries.
The coronavirus cases in Korea are considered stable and relatively low on a daily infected case rate with only a three-digit number. However, in August this year, the cases started to spike and reached its highest peak where more than 3,800 cases were reported. Stricter preventive measures, such as suspending airplanes operations, have been taken by the government to control the number of cases from growing rampantly.
Arsh Dadwal, a 2019 MPP Fall student in KDI School, has been stranded for more than one month in Korea. She has arranged a flight from Korea to her home country, but then the flight was rescheduled several times, before finally being canceled. She has been waiting patiently to get home. Sharing her story is not about getting sympathy, but rather to spur positivity and optimism when things happen that are beyond your control.
KDI School has done remarkable deeds and taken heroic action to ensure the safety and well-being of its students and alumni, as this is a precedent case where students have stayed longer than what was agreed upon in the agreements. “Being optimistic about what had happened keeps me strong. I feel like I am a female version of Tom Hanks from the film The Terminal,” she added jokingly.
It was inevitable, as a human being, she got frustrated when her flight kept on getting canceled. Student scholarships are only applicable for the current students only. Arsh had to manage this unexpected circumstance independently. Here is what she has to share from her inspirational and positive view:
1. Arsh, please tell us what is your turning point was to look at these unexpected circumstances with positivity?
I had been preparing myself mentally for this ever since my country went on lock down. I realized that flight restrictions and cancellations are beyond my control and hence decided to not let the frustration control my mind. I planned strategically and prepared for my physical and psychological survival. I applied for a Research Fellowship with the Seoul Metropolitan Government to make the best use of my time and add to my Korean academic experience. And not to forget the support of my friends from the continuing batch who kept me going and made it easier with their constant motivation. I know that I will eventually get back home, so I am just focusing on having a productive time here.
2. What did you do to survive in terms of living since you are no longer entitled to the scholarship?
I had to use some savings from back home, but these savings were not for such tough times. Also, I received an additional grant for having worked as a Class Assistant and Student Supporter during the last semester. I also received a token as a reward for community service. So, it all came together without much difficulty, and I managed.
3. What did you do to always be positive despite these unexpected circumstances?
To keep my momentum up and to remain positive and patient, I decided to experience the city of Sejong. The idea was to have fun while learning from it. One of my areas of interest is smart cities, so I utilized the opportunity at my disposal and traveled around the city, observing its mobility patterns, public spaces, infrastructure, and innovations like electricity-generating parks and solar benches. Not to forget all the Korean cuisine and coffee I had along the way. My SRP and Research Fellowship have also been keeping me busy since I am working on them both simultaneously.
In the moments that I felt bored or lonely, I would go back to the pictures and recordings of my KDI journey, the memories with my friends that are now scattered around the world. My friends who left for home long before me are constantly checking on me and keeping me updated about the developments in their lives, which was encouraging in a certain way.
Let me spill a secret, I am not a fitness freak but an honest Punjabi, and, in my country, my community is known for being loud and energetic, so, from time to time, I would turn up the bass and groove to some Bollywood music, and, not so surprisingly, it would liven up my spirit instantaneously.
4. What are some inspirational words that you would like to share with our readers?
In the end, it all works out, so, instead of focusing on the negatives, try to convert the situation into an opportunity to evolve. So, simply work hard, be grateful, and keep the faith.
Arsh finally managed to catch her flight on 24 September 2020.