From an outsider’s perspective, the country of Colombia may look like it remains free from COVID-19’s effects with just under 8,000 confirmed cases in the whole country, according to COVID-19 alert statistics.
This country has not been exempt the pandemic though.
Andrea Rodriguez, a senior studying psychology, spent most of her BYU-Idaho career in Rexburg, but since the pandemic she returned to her home country of Colombia. She is from the capital, Bogota.
The entire country of Colombia has been under quarantine for over two months. Rodriguez said the rules in Colombia are very strict in an attempt to keep everyone safe. The only people allowed out of their house are those needing to walk their dogs or go to the store. In addition, and depending on gender, there are specific days individuals must stay home.
“Girls can go on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and then guys can only go the other days,” Rodriguez explained. “If it’s not when you’re supposed to, you cannot be outside. You cannot drive, you cannot go for walks, you cannot exercise outside, and you cannot be out of your house after it’s 8 p.m., no social meetings, nothing. So it is really, really strict here.”
Rodriguez said that her country works hard to enforce these rules via legal repercussions including fines, which can exceed $400 and jail time, depending on the circumstances.
“It depends on how many things you’re breaking,” Rodriguez said. “If you are out when a guy is supposed to be out, and if it’s super late you can go to jail.”
However, even though the rules have been strict, Rodriguez knew she needed to come home to her family. After on-campus classes canceled, she knew something was going on. What worried her the most was seeing empty Walmart selves. Despite challenges other students may have faced returning to their countries, Rodriguez left right away to ensure a safe return home.
“I was really scared,” she said. “And then I called my mom and she was like, ‘You need to come home now,’ so I bought my tickets and that same weekend I came home.”
Remote schooling hasn’t been ideal for Rodriguez, just as it hasn’t been for other students who are used to a traditional approach to school.
“I was not planning on coming home at all, the whole situation just happened,” Rodriguez said. “Then I had to come home and I didn’t want to miss taking classes because I’m supposed to graduate soon and then I didn’t want to delay that so I realized that I had to take classes anyway, so that was the only option that I had.”
Rodriguez hopes to return to Rexburg in the fall if the coronavirus situation is resolved. She said that being in Rexburg is the ideal place to be for school, but because there is no knowledge about what will happen, she plans on continuing to work toward her degree in Colombia as she finishes her final semesters as a student.