In France, foreign students struggle with fallout from pandemic

REPORTERS © France 24 screengrab

Since lockdown began on March 17, 2020, thousands of foreign students have found themselves stranded in France, far away from family and even close friends. With their daily lives upended by the Covid-19 pandemic many are struggling with stress, isolation and insecurity. Our reporters met with some of these students to learn more about the difficulties they face.


Far from their relatives, living in cramped university rooms or studettes, thousands of foreign students have had to adapt overnight in response to the health crisis and consequent lockdown by the French government. After losing student jobs and income, many had no choice but to ration their meals. Others found themselves without diplomas, no prospect of an internship or job and in some cases without a valid visa to reside in France.

Ludwig Lebon, an 18 year old originally from Reunion Island, arrived in mainland France in August to take history classes. When the lockdown began he found himself confined to his nine-square metre room on a university campus, 9,000 kilometres from home and suffering depression.

Ivorian student Aristide Zadi, 28, was studying international finance before the health crisis hit. His internship was cancelled and he was left with 150 euros over two months with which to feed himself. Adding to the stress of the situation, his residency visa had almost expired.

Unprecedent charitable services have sprung up to meet the high demand for assistance from foreign students like Lebon and Zadi. At the Maison de la Tunisie the chef and volunteers help to feed those unable to buy food. During the month of Ramadan they served nearly 230 meals a day -- a blessing for the many students enduring hardship.

Report by Aurelie Simon, Antoine Boddaert, Alexandre Adam

Voice and translation by Josh Vardey


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