When President Trump passed a travel ban that halted all unnecessary travel to and from specific countries, for many, it was only a matter of not being able to go on this year’s summer vacation. However, for international students who come to the United States for an education, it was a very different story.
It was May 24 when Thiago Costa, junior, realized that getting to school this year was going to be more difficult, mentally and financially.
According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, May 24 was the day that Brazil, Costa’s home country, was added to the list of countries that have travel restrictions.
This means that anyone who has been in Brazil, among several other countries, in the past 14 days cannot enter the United States. To get into the U.S., individuals from those countries must quarantine in a country that is not on the list.
For Costa, quarantining in Mexico would be his most realistic option.
As a soccer player for Doane, Costa had been in close contact with his assistant soccer coach, Luis Castaneda. After hearing of Costa’s situation, Castaneda knew that he needed to help.
Once an international student himself from Mexico who played soccer for Doane, Castaneda thought about all of the people at Doane who helped his getting a degree a reality and knew that he could be that person for Costa.
When Castaneda reached out to his family in Mexico City to ask if they would be willing to take Costa in for 14 days, they were fully supportive. Castaneda said that his mother naturally helps without hesitation, so it was a quick conversation.
“I’m willing to help because people have helped me. That's just part of being Doane and being a tiger, and being part of this big family,” Castaneda said.
Once Costa found a place to quarantine for 14 days, he had to find a way to cover all of the extra expenses.
Most years, Costa only had to pay for the plane ticket to come to the U.S. However, this year he must pay for another international plane ticket as well as pay for added expenses that come with his 14-day quarantine.
Costa knew it would cost him twice as much to get to school this year. He was not sure it was going to be worth it. Yet, he was already paying for rent, electricity, wifi, etc. in Crete, so he talked to his parents who promised they would make an extra effort to help. That also included asking his grandmother for financial help.
It was not only Costa’s own family who offered him help but it was the Castaneda family as well.
“They are taking care of me and giving me everything I need. I don’t have words to explain what they are doing for me,” Costa said.
Since August 17, Costa has been quarantined in Mexico with Castaneda’s family. His days are filled with remote learning, homework and exercise since he cannot go out.
Even though he has spent the past two weeks in a foreign country with a family he just met, he looks to the positive side of things.
“Even if it is a little bit, I get the chance to know Mexico. I am getting to know the culture just a little bit and I am enjoying the food,” Costa said.
Though there are some benefits to being quarantined in Mexico, Costa looks forward to being in class and talking with his professors and peers in person as, like most people, he has not been in school since March.
To other students who are also in quarantine he offers advice.
“Keep your mind straight. Everything will be fine in the end. Be mentally strong. Enjoy your family. Most important, when you go out, wear your mask,” Costa said.