Omani students in UK brave pandemic odds

Even though it is a challenging time for the students pursuing their studies away from their countries, some Omani students in the UK said they were coping with the situation and trying to be as much safe as possible from the new strains of Covid-19.
Some of the students who are residing in Bristol said they were in high spirits and motivated despite all the challenges they are facing due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Saud al Busaidy, who is doing PhD in education at the University of Bristol, said, “I stay at home most of the time, busy with my study. As it is allowed to do exercise outside with certain restrictions, I usually go for a walk, which is a great way to clear my head from the lockdown stress.”
Majed al Rahbi, a final year student at the University of West of England, said, “Covid-19 has significantly changed the delivery of courses in most of the university departments in which lectures and tutorials are online at the moment. I am coping with that.”
Nasser al Nasri is also a student in Bristol, but he is with his family. As nurseries are open, Nasser takes two of his children to the nursery, and then resumes his classes online. Nasser said, “Although most of the shops are closed, shopping for necessities is permitted. Many grocery shops that provide ‘halal’ food are open. Others including clothes shops are closed. Pharmacies and healthcare services centres are open.”
Majed and Nasser admitted staying indoors is challenging for them. They admitted to having managed stress and anxiety through virtual hangouts once or twice a week with other Omani students. This helps them in encouraging each other to express feelings and create a lively atmosphere full of fun and excitement.
“Most of the Omani students in Bristol, and the UK in general, are coping with the situation, and if any student has any issue, they can contact their academic adviser at the Cultural Attaché Office,” they said.
There is an active group of Omanis staying in Bristol. Majed al Rahbi is head of the Omani Society of Bristol and Bath since 2018. He admits to having faced many challenges. “Challenges are there, but we keep supporting new students coming to Bristol. I usually advise them where they should stay, the safe areas, the agencies that provide accommodations for students, and the shops that provide ‘halal’ food and other groceries. “
“Some students faced a difficult time during this pandemic. We have a WhatsApp group on which we share experiences and other stories,” he said and added that the social media groups keep them connected and stress-free.
Commenting on the travel situation in the country, Saud al Busaidy said, “I had to travel to Oman after the second lockdown and had to return to the UK in February when the third lockdown started. Oman Air, thankfully, provides one flight a day from Muscat to London Heathrow. At both the airports, I have noticed that precautions have been taken as all staff at the airport, the cabin crew, and all the passengers wear a face mask, and I have seen that hand sanitisers are provided at both airports.”
“Before my flight to London, I had to provide a negative result of the PCR test, and I had to fill in a passenger locator form, which both were requested at London Heathrow airport.”
Saud had to quarantine for 10 days in Bristol. The information about what is required before travelling, is given by the staff at the Cultural Attaché Office at the Oman Embassy in London.
“The British government updates the countries policies and the details are available online at their website www.gov.uk. Thus, students should read what is needed before heading off to the airport,” Saud said.