While Turkey is experiencing unique hardships over the coronavirus pandemic, African students who came to Turkey to study at universities find themselves sharing daily life with locals during the lockdown.
The novel coronavirus, which emerged in Wuhan, China in late 2019, with the first case confirmed in Turkey on March 11, has prompted preventive measures worldwide in efforts to stem the spread of the disease, including lockdowns, the closure of educational institutions, the banning of public gatherings and the halting of international flights.
With classes suspended since March 12, 19-year-old Coulibaly al-Hussein from the Ivory Coast, who studies at Giresun University in northeastern Turkey, says he spends most of his time at home but follows the rules set by the authorities whenever he ventures out.
"I respect the distance of 1 meter with other people and always go out with protection – a mask and gloves,” he told Anadolu Agency (AA).
"Our embassy advised us to follow the rules in the country where we are and to respect the rules of hygiene despite the confinement,” he added, ruling out any plans by himself or his embassy for repatriation as he has not contacted them since the pandemic was confirmed in Turkey.
"Since the beginning of this pandemic, I haven't contacted the embassy of my county and it hasn't contacted me,” al-Hussein said.
"I think the measures taken by the Turkish government are really good and they have allowed a large number of people to be protected and have also contributed to a less aggressive spread of the virus in Turkey, contrary to what we observe in other countries," he said.
Moustapha Aliou, 23, a Cameroonian who studies industrial engineering at Istanbul Şehir University, says he spends his days during the lockdown reading books and taking online courses.
"I am not going out and maintain my hygiene well,” he said regarding precautions he takes against the virus.
Another Cameroonian, 30-year-old Gassim Ibrahim, who studies history at Fatih Sultan Mehmet Vakıf University in Istanbul, decided to use his time during the lockdown to engage in research and writing.
"I’m spending my days at home. I keep doing research by reading and writing. I am using my electronic resources and some books that I had already bought. I usually watch the news and films at the night,” he said.
"I don’t do anything extra than respecting the measures planned by the government: staying home, going out only for emergency situations and never forgetting to wear a mask and always keeping a distance between myself and others.”
Gassim said the current measures in Turkey against COVID-19 are "enough if they are properly applied.”