SU student shares experience of being back home in China during coronavirus pandemic


XIAMEN, CHINA (WSYR-TV) — With the stay-at-home orders in effect throughout the country, many of us can only dream of what it will look like once COVID-19 loosens its grip and the economy opens back up.

One Syracuse University student is now home in China and she shows us what the new normal looks like over there. Over a month ago, Emporia Meng was studying abroad in New York City when coronavirus came around. To get away from the epicenter, she flew back home to China. But after many people on her plane showed symptoms of the virus, they were all placed under mandatory quarantine for two weeks. Now, Meng is roaming the streets at home.

“Everything is back to normal, to an extent,” Meng said.

Meng said the city is coming back to life, with malls and restaurants now open. But it’s different than she remembers.

“If you’re not wearing a mask, you’ll either be kicked out of whatever area you’re in, our people will give you extremely dirty looks,” Meng said.

Many are still practicing social distancing and wherever they go, they have to get a temperature check. Each person also has their own digital health code. It can be read on an app, which uses color coordination. They have to show their color before going into public. Green means it is okay to be out and about. But if it’s red or yellow, they’re forced to isolate. 

It is a strange new world, but one Meng appreciates now, more than ever. 

“I had lived here for like nine or ten years, but I had never ever like explored the city to its fullest extent. I’ve been to like maybe one or two landmarks and that was it,” Meng said.

Meng said while some of her friends in NYC have COVID-19 or know someone who is impacted, none of her friends in China are seeing the same consequences.

“The people that I was surrounded by in America were going through so much worse than the people I’m surrounded by in China right now,” Meng said.

However, the virus still lingers in her home city, and freedom now comes at a greater cost. It’s something Meng has accepted and has now learned to put health and safety before anything else. 

“I’m just very, very appreciative that I get to be home. I get to be with my family, that I get to walk around the streets and buy my favorite food and hang out with my friends,” Meng said.

Meng said she doesn’t plan on coming back to campus in Syracuse if classes do pick back up this August. The university is coming up with plans for international students, like herself, to spend the fall semester in Hong Kong. Those plans are simply in the brainstorming phase, and are subject to change at any moment.

To see the original story with Meng where she was stuck in a mandatory quarantine, click here.

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For more local news, follow Julia LeBlanc on Twitter @JuliaLeBlancNC9.

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