Hari, A., Nardon, L., Zhang, H. A Transnational lens into international student experiences of the COVID-19 pandemic


We analyse the experiences of international students living in Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic through the lens of transnationalism that understands mobility as broadly uninterrupted, continuing and taken-for-granted, and international student migration (ISM) literature. With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, people had to contend with sudden border closures and stringent restrictions on all forms of travel. International students are regarded as the archetypal trans-migrants with frequent mobility and often multiple attachments to place. We interrogate these assumptions of mobility by drawing on interview data from 13 international students in Ontario from April to June of 2020. We found that international students experienced the pandemic transnationally and faced increased challenges, which heightened their reliance on support from transnational families, and generated anxieties about their future career and mobilities. We bring transnational theories into conversation with ISM literature to better understand international students’ lived experiences in Canada during a pandemic.