– I’m really sad that I might have to leave Umeå, says international student Maria Himbeault from Canada, who is thinking of returning home much sooner than expected, because of the COVID-19 virus.

Vertex meets Maria Himbeault by the Umeå river, just outside Arts Campus. Maria is here on exchange from the University of Saskatchewa, Canada, and is studying Bachelor of Arts in Psychology.

What are you doing out and about? Are you practising social distancing?
– I’m introverted so I’m always social distancing, ha-ha. But in all seriousness I’ve been limiting interactions with large groups of people. Since classes have been moved to online I’ve been spending a lot more time indoors. However, I feel like it is important to get fresh air. Sweden has a lot of good walking trails so I’ve been trying to utilizing them a lot.

How has COVID-19 affected you?
– This pandemic has been really stressful. Especially since I come from outside of the EU. I think it’s affected me quite a bit due to Umeå University closing and events (like Snösvänget’s Shååvven) being cancelled. It’s also stressful because I’ve had to figure out if I’m staying or leaving Umeå. I’m really sad that I might have to leave because I’ve met a lot of wonderful people and seen a lot of beautiful places. It’s hard to say goodbye.

Do you think you will return to Canada sooner than expected?
– I’m thinking of travelling back on Monday or sometime during next week. I don’t want to but I’m having issues with my health insurance coverage and if I stay I may not be covered aboard anymore. I’m worried about travelling because I have to go through 4 different airports to get home and may be at a higher risk of getting ill.

Text and photo:
Emily Rose Williams