COVID-19: Thoughts and Concerns from a Chinese Student

Kristina Stahl / The Triton

If you are in one of UC San Diego’s meme Facebook groups, you may have seen this meme and other jokes about COVID-19, a type of coronavirus first detected in December 2019. Some of the memes depict the dangerous virus in a somewhat humorous way, due to the fact that it is not spread widely in San Diego. However, we should take this situation more seriously, as there are students like me who worry about the virus from the bottom of our heart.

As an international student from China, I want to talk about COVID-19 from my perspective. I have lived in San Diego since September 2019, so I am safe from the epicenter of the virus. During the initial worldwide spread, my San Diego friends sometimes joked about the coronavirus. Memes posted online in Facebook groups show how some students get nervous when an Asian student sitting next to them starts coughing. I can never forget these memes because, as a Chinese student, I feel uncomfortable when I see that this serious disease spreading in my country has been depicted in a trivial manner. Although I know my friends do not see me as some potential danger, I still feel a bit hurt because I have been treated differently due to my nationality.

In early December, I, like many people in China, thought the virus would pass in a short time, just like the normal flu. However, COVID-19 cannot yet be cured by any medicines. On January 23,  it was announced that Wuhan was under quarantine, which meant all transportation stopped: No one could get inside Wuhan and no one could get out. When I witnessed the announcement, I burst into tears because I realized that my country was facing a severe problem. Whenever I asked my family and friends in China for updates on the virus, they always told me that everything was fine because they did not want me to worry. However, with the news spreading worldwide, I knew that COVID-19 had become so dangerous that most people in China could not go back to work—my mom was notified earlier this month that her company extended the suspension of operations for another week.

While no one I know personally is infected, the thousands of others suffering from COVID-19 drowns my heart with worry. What if my family is next? I feel powerless when I use Chinese social media to see the death toll count and whether the medical supplies are sufficient. Recently, my mood has been low before I sleep because this is the time Chinese news is reported. However, with the sunrise and the opportunity to go to class and see my friends, my sadness automatically disappears. I can barely feel the danger and tension of COVID-19 during the day, except when someone offhandedly mentions it. My Chinese friends seem to have a silent mutual agreement that no one talks about the virus in public. We only feel our emotions when texting family and friends that are in China.

COVID-19 is not a joke. In the second meeting convened by the World Health Organization (WHO) International Health Regulations, COVID-19 was deemed a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. In other words, COVID-19 requires worldwide unity to prevent it from spreading further.

Due to multiple COVID-19 cases in San Diego, everyone should pay close attention to their health. According to WHO, there are several ways to protect ourselves from the virus, including: washing hands frequently, avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth, and covering your mouth with a tissue or your elbow when coughing. If you do not know how to help, you can offer support to those whose families are affected or at risk for COVID-19. COVID-19 is now a global issue that needs everyone to work together to overcome it, not only for China, but for the entirety of the world.

Yufei Ge is a Staff Writer for The Triton.

View Comments (5)

  • Dang, too bad the Corona virus literally makes people sick haha. And kills them. Haha. Like, haha, that concern totally makes people racist haha. Haha nice

    Another Good thing is that memes are jokes. The quote you put is essentially equivalent to someone being nervous over what a comedian says while attending one of their shows

  • Dear Yufei Ge, I live in Mainland China now and I can truthfully write that people from your country of Mainland China are the most xenophobic, racist, prejudice, self-centered, fakest and rudest people I have ever met, and it is common for Mainland Chinese people to not care about foreigners, the feelings of foreigners, what foreigners think, what foreigners do, and, what foreigners say. The only response from Mainland Chinese is to talk badly about foreigners behind their backs. Mainland Chinese treat foreigners differently based on their national origin, and Mainland Chinese like to make fun of Westerners the most. In my own personal experience living in China I have been excluded from Mainland Chinese society based upon my Western features, and my so-called Mainland Chinese friends refuse to hang out with me. Overall, I have learned that Mainland Chinese people like Western made products but they do not like Western people, in fact Mainland Chinese have a disdain for Western people. My advice to you is take the comments in stride because you are different, so you have better get used to that fact.

  • Yufei Ge,
    I can't say "most" but I can tell you that a great many of the Chinese in the US are arrogant entitled jerks.
    They treat anyone in the service industry like dirt. Their racism is overwhelming. Were it up to a whole lot of use we'd see about half of them air-dropped into Wuhan for they rotten behavior. It is clear they do not share the sensibilities of Americans. They still think they are "the humans" (yeah, we know all about that). But still we try to treat them kindly. I have been in China. You all have very VERY little to be proud of there, and much to be abjectly ashamed of in the last few decades. I suggest you take the log out of your own eye and help your fellows see they are doing themselves no good. The decent Americans scold and berate their fellow Americans for mistreating service people and for any hint of racism. It's time you started to demand more of your own if you want any of us to feel for you.

  • You do understand that this is a new situation for all of us...I'm 52 years old, and haven't seen a national response to an illness like this in my lifetime. What you perceive as "racism" is, for sure, based in ignorance. But it's also based in the information people are being fed. The virus *did* outbreak in Wuhan. They're being careful. If people don't know you, how do they know you didn't just come from mainland PRC?? You, unfortunately, are being more close-minded than people around you. YOU know you're safe; you've lived in CA since September. Does EVERYONE else around you know this, those who might be shying away from you? Give us a break...identity victimhood serves no one in this time of crisis.

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