Several of Elon University’s international students will be remaining on campus during Hurricane Florence, which is now expected to make landfall as a Category 2 storm Friday morning.
After first hearing about the hurricane, which was once a strong Category 4, freshman Shelly Freund didn’t consider it as much of a threat.
“I was like, ‘Oh, whatever, it’s just rain,”’ Freund said. “Category 4 didn’t really mean anything to me until people started telling me to get it together.”
Despite having experienced the tails of hurricanes in her home of El Salvador, Freund still didn’t really know what to expect.
“For local students, students from Florida or anywhere in the U.S. where hurricanes happen, they know what to do. They’ve grown up like that; they got it,” Freund said. “Internationals like me, we don’t have that at all.”
Not knowing what to expect is a common feeling for many of the international students staying on campus.
Junior Shu Ern Chua is a exchange student from Singapore who will be remaining on campus in his room on the second floor of Moffitt Hall in the Colonnades Neighborhood.
“This is my first time experiencing a natural disaster like this, so of course I am a little nervous,” Chua said. “But I am not as worried because I know we are so far inland, and if I stay indoors, I am sure I’ll be safe.”
Chua also found some comfort in the emails sent from the Office of Student Life detailing the precautions the university is taking and what students should be doing to prepare for the hurricane.
“The emails they have sent out were very useful. I think Elon is doing a good job,” Chua said.
The safety of Elon’s international students is one of the Global Education Center's (GEC) top priorities. For the last week leading up to the storm, the GEC has been collecting information from the 158 international students on campus regarding their plans for the storm.
Kristen Aquilino, the assistant director for global student engagement, is one of the main points of contact for international students remaining on campus for the hurricane.
“While the GEC has been working on assuring the safety of Elon’s international students, we are also working conjointly with other offices around campus to ensure the safety of all Elon students,” Aquilino said.
For some of the international students unable to go home before the storm, the GEC provided alternative options to staying on campus.
“We have the 'Local Friends' group that is happy to take students, but actually, a lot of students preferred to stay on campus,” Aquilino said. “Their friends are here; the dining halls are open. So we had that option open, but nobody took advantage of it.”
From her conversations with the students staying on campus, the international student body seems to be in good spirits.
“There hasn’t been a sense of panic in the international student population,” Aquilino said. “People are just very curious about this hurricane. As a whole, everyone has been very positive.”