Student Stories: My Life In Australia During The Pandemic

We are taking part in the #MyAustralia campaign so our international students can share their story and what it has been like studying in Australia during the pandemic.

Every international student has a story to tell about their experience studying aboard. To shine a light on our domestic and international residents, we’re taking part in Study Australia’s #MyAustralia campaign so that they can share their story, how their experience has been during the COVID-19 pandemic, and what it’s been like studying in Australia during such difficult times around the world.

Auriel - Scape Toowong

What are you studying?
Bachelor of Psychological Science (Honours) at UQ.

When did you move in?
Early April 2020.

How did the pandemic affect your studies, lifestyle, and mental health?
Back then all classes moved online, and they gradually started to return to campus. For me, in terms of studies I did not have many changes and quickly adapted.

For lifestyle, I definitely felt more wary and cautious about what I was doing, like asking “are they hygienic enough?” Though it was also easy to transition to a new lifestyle, I guess my mental health was affected sometimes. Mainly because I was worried about my family’s condition back home, and once in a while I did feel a little homesick (because there have been 2 semester breaks where I couldn’t come back home). 

What sort of things and activities did you do during lockdown?
I really tried to occupy myself with many activities. When watching or reading something started to feel “unproductive” for me, I started trying new activities, mostly crafting. I learned how to knit and crochet, make resin charms, bought craft kits, cooking, and of course, going back to my roots and doing what I enjoy the most: drawing. With drawing, I have also started to branch out and draw on different mediums, like shoes and phone cases.

Were you able to socialise with other people during lockdown?
I think with Scape doing many events – whether it was in person at the kitchen, grab and go kits, or even online events – helped me out a lot. It definitely gave me many ways to pass the time, and most of the ones I joined were very fun.

Did staying in a building with other people (like other residents and staff) help?
Definitely. I’ve met many friends from the resident community, and a lot of the time the staff are also very cheerful and supportive. To me, even a small “Hey! How’s it going?” from the staff when I passed by reception felt really nice (of course, conversing with them is also pretty fun).

How do you feel today after all that’s happened with the pandemic in the past year or so?
Though I still have some worries in the back of my mind, I feel like staying here at Scape and QLD specifically is definitely something that I’m very grateful about.

Celina (Hong Kong) - Scape Toowong

What are you studying?
I am studying a Bachelor of Arts at the University of Queensland.

When did you move in?
I moved in at the beginning of February 2020.

How did the pandemic affect your studies, lifestyle, and mental health?
Speaking of the COVID’s impact on me, the pandemic hindered me from on-campus studies and meeting new friends, something that is very important to a new international student.

I could not do many physical or outdoor activities as well, therefore it was difficult to explore different places in Brisbane. Fortunately, I have been positive during the lockdown as I knew a bad mood would affect me dealing with my studies and my adaptation to a new country.

What sort of things and activities did you do during lockdown?
Apart from focusing on my studies and attending zoom classes during lockdown, I spent time doing a lot of cooking, video calling my friends in Hong Kong, exercising a bit every day and binge-watching tv shows and movies.

Were you able to socialise with other people during lockdown?
I’m lucky to be staying in Scape during lockdown as it provided a lot of “grab & go” activities for us to kill time. [Scape Engagement Coordinator] Courtney was often there to knock on our doors and check on us. She also handed out relax packs with a variety of snacks each time. I’m impressed by the help and care Courtney and Scape provided during lockdown.

How do you feel today after all that’s happened with the pandemic in the past year or so?
After everything happened in the past year, I particularly treasure the time with family and friends. When there was no pandemic, we may have taken those times for granted. Now we know it isn’t easy at all to meet them.

I also realized how important it is to always keep hygienic and [to maintain] good health, both physically and mentally. We would also have to prepare for the worst all the time, so we would not be hit hard by future situations like COVID. Most importantly, I hope COVID will be gone soon as I don’t want Zoom classes anymore hahaha!

Dhina (Indonesia) - Scape Toowong

What are you studying?
I used to study accounting in UQ, but I have recently graduated.

When did you move in?
I moved in June 2020.

How did the pandemic affect your studies, lifestyle, mental health?
The pandemic did affect my studies as it brought some changes from studying on-campus to online classes. I had a hard time coping up with the fast pace of each course that I took as everything was been conducted online, and the difficulty of each course had been levelled up. Despite the circumstances, I survived the toughest semester I’ve ever had.

In terms of lifestyle, I think from what the pandemic has brought, it changed me into a healthier person. I tried my best to eat a lot of fruits and vegetables, doing some exercises. When it comes to mental health, the pandemic has made it worse as I tend to experience high levels of stress and anxiety.

What sort of things and activities did you do during lockdown?
I did some exercises, watching some anime that I haven’t managed to watch.

Were you able to socialise with other people during lockdown?
Scape gave me support during the lockdown by giving some virtual activities to do. Not only that, I had the chance to chat with the friendly staff.

Did staying in a building with other people (like other residents and staff) help?
Staying at Scape has been so helpful for me! I shall thank you for the fun experiences that I had through the events and the daytrips!

The Scape community has been so friendly and fun, the staff are so friendly to talk to. I couldn’t imagine if I hadn’t decided to move to Scape last year, moving to Scape is the best decision that I’ve ever made! It gave me some experiences and memories that could last for a lifetime.

How do you feel today after all that’s happened with the pandemic?
I could say that I’ve mixed feelings after all that’s happened with the pandemic. Somehow, I could describe that there is chaos happening inside my head.

What I mean is, I have been feeling much safer staying in Australia as the pandemic situation is much more controlled than in Indonesia. Meanwhile, the pandemic in Indonesia is getting worse. I have a heavy heart to leave Australia.

Cheryl - Scape Toowong

What are you studying?
Masters of Speech Pathology Studies.

When did you move in?
July 2019.

How did the pandemic affect your studies, your lifestyle, your mental health?
It was initially difficult to adapt to the change, but luckily I had my housemates who I could bond with and we kept each other in check with our mental health.

We were always finding fun activities to keep ourselves occupied especially since we did not leave the house except for essential work and errands. Transition to Zoom online classes was a bit challenging at first but was able to ease into it soon after.

What sort of things and activities did you do during the lockdown?
School work, played games with housemates, and watched TV.

How did you socialise with other people during lockdown?
Online Zoom games and activities and lots of DIY kits.

Did staying in a building with other people (like other residents and staff) help?
Definitely. I would have been bored if I were staying alone and did not know anyone in the building.

How do you feel today after all that’s happened with the pandemic in the past year or so?
The future is still uncertain, no one knows when everything will be over so we have to adapt to the new norm. It really isn’t so bad, we’ve learnt to cope with the restrictions and the pandemic that is affecting people around the world.

Nadia (New Zealand) - Scape Toowong

What are you studying?
My name is Nadia, I’m from Auckland, New Zealand.

When did you move in?
I moved into Scape Toowong in February 2021. I moved to Brisbane for postgraduate study, and I am studying a Master of Secondary Teaching at QUT.

How did the pandemic affect—studies, lifestyle, mental health?
The pandemic began while I was in my last semester of my Undergraduate degree back in NZ, and because of this my classes and graduation ceremony were held online. Because of my studies being solely online, my lifestyle had changed quite a bit since I was at home most of the time.

This change in lifestyle had affected my mental health in many ways as I didn’t have the social interaction and support that I was used to, and due to the stress of trying to complete my degree online.

What sort of things and activities did you do during lockdown?
During lockdown in New Zealand, I was working in retail and as we were still operating throughout the pandemic, I kept myself occupied at work.

When I wasn’t at work, I was going for walks along the beach, having movie nights with my flatmates, and of course doing more Uni work. During the two lockdowns that I’ve been through in Brisbane, I kept myself busy with Uni work, as well as reading books and watching extreme amounts of Netflix.

Were you able to socialise with other people during lockdown?
Scape was very supportive during lockdown as they kept us all regularly informed of the changes that were being made to keep us all safe, which was reassuring. Some of the monthly events were changed to an online format, which allowed us to relieve some stress and to still connect with the Scape community.

Did staying in a building with other people (like other residents and staff) help?
Staying at Scape was helpful during lockdown, as there was a strong sense of community and support which was greatly appreciated.

How do you feel today after all that’s happened with the pandemic in the past year or so?
The past year or so have been full of uncertainty and change, but I’m feeling quite optimistic about the future. Sooner or later we will start to see some normality in the world again!