By Kevin Ma

When it comes to spending money while attending college, the biggest expense for you as a Chinese exchange student is the airfare to come to school and back home.

Back in 2019 and before, the round trip could be considered very convenient and the supply of airline tickets could meet the total demand of students, so the price was relatively stable in terms of price. But with the outbreak of the epidemic in 2020, China and the United States through flights have plummeted, and even once canceled through flights.

Many Chinese students are backlogged in the U.S., and the supply of air tickets is far less than the demand. In addition, there is no price ceiling for air tickets, so the demand for international students is more urgent than before, so the price has gone up, and there is even a sky-high ticket price of 80,000 RMB.

The summer vacation of the university is usually from May to August, so there is a long free time, so you must plan well. Since we only have student visas, we cannot work off-campus to increase our total income, so the money we have at our disposal is quite limited. Therefore, the two main summer travel options available to me were to travel in the U.S. and to buy a plane ticket home no matter how expensive it was.

Going home would give me pleasure, but it is also very costly. On January 24, 2022, I followed the news that the U.S. Canceled 44 flights of transportation with China. And the following day, not surprisingly airfares were once again skyrocketing and many of the tickets purchased were not necessarily guaranteed to fly. On top of that, because China has an inbound quarantine policy, one must also pay a portion of the hotel quarantine fee, which was not available before the outbreak. According to others who went through the quarantine, the cost was about 4,000 RMB for 21 days.

My other option was to stay in the US and travel.  The amount of money I’m willing to spend for the first trip of the summer is about $1,000. I’d be willing to spend only $500 for the second one, for some in-state fun, and maybe less than $100 for the third, for some fun even closer to home. So, I don’t think it would consume a lot of my time and a lot of my money in terms of
travel.

But on Wednesday of this week, I looked at the airline tickets again and noticed that there were more flights as the outbreak situation gradually improved. Shanghai to New York, Shanghai to Dallas, and Shanghai to Los Angeles all have new routes as well. Then I checked the prices again and found that they had indeed gone down quite
a bit. It was around 30,000 RMB. Although the isolation costs are still expensive, I think my chances of choosing to go home have greatly increased.

Finally, I hope the epidemic will end soon and I will be able to go home soon.

Ma is a junior at the University of Missouri.