Lockdown and remote learning has been tough, but spare a thought for international students
“It has been a complete disaster for me,” she said.
“I’ve not been able to go out at all and make new friends because I’ve been locked inside my apartment on my own…the mental health toll is the biggest toll on me.”
It has also been hard studying away from family and friends during such an uncertain time.
“Monash was brilliant. I survived because of their support, especially when they assisted me with a grant to continue my studies,” she said.
“I am now doing a double Masters in Journalism and International Relations thanks to their help.”
Even though the financial support from Monash has been a lifeline, Ms Sharma isn’t sure what her future holds.
“I am supposed to be in Australia to study for two and a half years, but now my future is uncertain.
“I’m not sure if I will be able to stay in Australia.”
But, like Ms Sharma and Mr Kansal, Mr Qureshi arrived in Melbourne in February and within weeks the world had turned upside down. He was told his engineering studies would be conducted completely online.
Hearing this news was devastating.
“Paying this much money for online study is a waste,” he said.
The four-year degree will cost Mr Qureshi $184,000.
He decided to defer until second semester in the hope restrictions would ease by then and on-campus learning would return.
Since starting online learning, Mr Qureshi said it has not gone well.
“The communication gap is the main problem…it’s a major drawback. The online practicals are not even 50% as productive as face-to-face practicals,” he said.
“The tuition fees should have been reduced. It’s not value for money at all.”
“My housemate was going through mental stress due to lockdown,” he said.
“He lost his job, which was a financial burden to him. He was too scared to tell his parents.
“One day he collapsed due to extreme stress and we had to get him to hospital, where he stayed for a week. When he got back, me and my friends helped to pay his rent and bills.”
Feeling hemmed in by the lockdown, and with the uncertainty about when face-to-face learning would return, Mr Qureshi took the opportunity, when it arose, to fly back to his family in Pakistan.
He has continued his studies remotely from there.
Mr Qureshi is hoping he can come back to Australia and complete his Bachelor of Engineering face-to-face.
“I’m not sure if I can continue with it at present — definitely not if the only option is online.”
Originally published at https://www.mojonews.com.au on November 6, 2020.