By Ian Snowdeal
Covid-19 has changed nearly everyone’s lives in a matter of months. Workers are without jobs, students are without in-person school to attend, and many of us are trying to adapt to a whole new norm.
For most college students, that meant moving back home with their parents/guardians and getting used to an old norm, but for a majority of international students, this hasn’t been the case. Springfield College first-year student Farrukhbek Varisov has been impacted significantly by this pandemic.
Varisov is currently living with a family friend in Florida and had previously been living with his roommate’s family in New York, but decided it was best to move due to the rising numbers in the area.
The toughest part is Varisov has been unable to see his family, “It’s worrisome because of the whole situation with my country closing their borders and making me unable to go home,” said Varisov. “I’m in these online classes where I don’t care to be. I want to be walking to them at Springfield.”
He made the move to the U.S in August of 2019 to pursue his academic endeavors at Springfield College. The 6,000-mile trip from his hometown of Tashkent, Uzbekistan was a long one, but he knew he found the place he wanted to be. “When I started to look for schools, I wanted it to be private, a limited number of people, and rural, and Springfield just hit the spot. It’s great,” Varisov said.
Growing up in the capital of Uzbekistan, Varisov was always around people. It was crowded and he knew it wasn’t the place for him. His mother, a graduate of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, always told him how the best schools were in the Northeast region of America and instilled that into him as a child.
Varisov’s first language wasn’t English; however, it wasn’t the most difficult for him to learn and adjust to. “Learning English wasn’t hard; in fact, I think it is one of the easiest languages to learn–although twelve tenses seemed complex at times,” said Varisov, who is also fluent in Uzbek and Russian.
He began looking for schools his junior year and found that Springfield was the right choice for him. This whole year had been one of growth and new experiences for Varisov until the pandemic occurred.
Throughout last semester, Varisov was focused on his grades and improving himself in the classroom. As a theatre arts minor, it was hard for him at first to not join the plays and musicals going on during the fall semester, but he knew he needed to adapt to Springfield. During the fall, Varisov made the decision to switch majors as well. He came in as a criminal justice major and with the help of his professors, he made the decision to switch to a psychology major.
Varisov never had a problem adjusting to change in the U.S. He was grateful to be in a place that he loved, especially the cool spring and fall weather that he appreciates the most. The only times he felt left out were during parents’ weekend, where he wasn’t excluded but just felt the frustration of being so far away from home.
Without being able to join any plays or performances in the fall, Varisov found a safe place in the Marsh Memorial Building on campus. “In Marsh, there is a very nice grand piano and whenever I have time I go there and just play it all out there,” said Varisov. Whenever he has free time he tries to make the walk from Gulick Hall and be able to play a bit to release some emotion.
Along with the piano, Varisov plays the guitar, acts and sings. His great-grandmother is his biggest fan and during lunch most days back at home he will sing for her when she requests it.
This semester Varisov was set to act in the school play, and he also joined the jazz ensemble on campus. “Theatre arts was always my passion, but Springfield doesn’t offer it as a major. I found a way, I’ve always liked being artistic and musical,” Varisov said.
He had spent the majority of the semester rehearsing each and every night for both of these groups, waiting for the big night so it would all pay off. His grades dropped a little, but it didn’t matter much to him because he was pursuing his passion, which all came to a halt once Varisov found out that he would be unable to perform in both of these activities. All the hard work and time that Varisov spent felt wasted. “If I managed to be a part of the play and performed on stage, it wouldn’t matter, but it does,” he said. He was angry with how his grades took a drop and there was no real meaning to it anymore.
Without knowing what the future holds, Varisov will be residing in Florida for the time being. He misses his family, and hopes that this pandemic will end soon so he can see them and be back on the Springfield College campus to perform in front of people the way he wanted to this semester.