When I first heard about COVID 19, I never thought that it would turn the world upside down and leave us in such a situation where we have little control. Life has taken us by surprise, and it has put various things on hold, but we need to remind ourselves that there is light at the end of the tunnel and we are closer to reaching there.
Being a former International student and now an Education Counsellor, I can relate well to the anxieties and pressures that we are dealing with each passing day and how it is making things difficult for us. Penning down my own thoughts into this article has helped me get answers to my own unsolved questions.
Here’s to all the International Students to help them with five of the most common anxieties I’ve received as a counsellor at IDP.
Online Learning and Teaching
When I first landed in Australia, I was so excited to study at an international university with the students from all over the world. I still remember my first day in the class and my excitement had no limits.
Ironically, this isn’t the experience for students who landed in Australia in Feb 2020. With COVID-19 in full action, students are really struggling to understand the changing patterns in their curriculum.
As a counsellor, I have been receiving many inquiries for as students are unable to understand the online method of teaching. Some students don’t even have appropriate resources to connect to their classes and classmates.
The current status of International Education is very different now. Prior to COVID-19, regular face-to-face classroom interactions helped us in achieving our educational goals but now restrictions are in place and many international students are left in limbo with what to do, where to go and how to adapt in a completely different culture and learning environment, while away from immediate family or friends.
Coping with Finances
As a counsellor, I have been receiving many distressing calls from students finding it very hard to cope with the financial impact of COVID-19. Questions revolving around scholarship options, fee reductions, payment plans and deferment of courses.
Many students are finding themselves lost in an island without much support. They are unable to seek financial help from their families as most of the countries are under lockdown leaving them with no options at all. International students who have recently arrived in Australia are the most disadvantaged and vulnerable as they barely know the culture of the country, and language is yet another barrier and on top of that they cannot get access to the resources.
This is undoubtedly hard times for them. As a counsellor at IDP, I take comfort that our honest advice, concerns and guidance gives them the feeling of hope as in such times, as we all need to stay calm and prioritise our wellbeing.
Loss of security
International students are in the midst of losing their hopes and dreams. With no job security, no source of income or little to no financial support, some students are struggling for necessities such as food, housing and jobs.
Students are also being affected emotionally, mentally, psychologically and are unable to figure out what’s in store for them once the pandemic is finally over. Studying overseas is a big decision and 2020 has been a letdown for the hopes and dreams of International students.
However, it is their stories, their struggles and their positive attitude is something that will be remembered by generations to come. The spirits and the optimism of International students will keep us floating in the industry as they indirectly give us the ray of hope that we all are sailing in the same boat, and we all will come victorious once this is all over.
Future at Stake
Many of us are worrried that the future of International students are at stake. As a counsellor, I come across queries where students are worried for their future, dreams and desires but I have found that their will power is strong, and with their hard work, patience and perseverance, they can achieve their study abroad goals once the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.
The current scenario means that plans are paused, not cancelled, so it’s important to keep hold of your dreams and ambitions. Many students dream of international study, some leave their jobs in the home country and put everything at stake with a dream to earn a lifestyle they always dreamt of. Such students inspire me and help me spread the message that once the COVID-19 crisis has passed, there will be a way to achieve those dreams!
No one knows what’s next in the current scenario but we are sure that good days will come again.
A conversation with my student made me realise that the education is an essential part of our world and there can be no dead end to this industry. She said, “Knowledge is Power” and we will be able to fight this phase and move ahead in the days to come. Knowledge, after all, is key in combating the current COVID-19 pandemic.
As a counsellor, I would like to convey my message to International Students to make the most of this time. With everything on hold, take the time to strengthen your relationship with friends and family by communicating more often, and extra time means you can experiment different things that you didn’t have to time to explore before. Time is your power so make the most of it!
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You can explore more stories by international students in our blog.