How did you feel as the COVID-19 crisis began to escalate earlier this year?
I was reading a lot of things on the Coronavirus back then. I worked for Manila Water back in the Philippines, so I know about preparing for disasters before they hit. I saw it coming and was telling my relatives this is something serious, and we need to prepare. I am here with my wife and children, so I wanted to make sure we were ready and stayed safe.
How did you find the shift to online study?
As the COVID-19 crisis grew, I didn’t want to go to class anymore. Thankfully, Flinders quickly shifted to online study. A lot of our assignments were already online, but they moved the lectures and tutorials online as well.
Some of the online learning was a bit challenging. I’m animated and like to engage with people, so I find it harder to interact online. But it’s an advantage to be able to work whenever it’s convenient for me. Sometimes I had to schedule my study hours around the kids’ energy levels.
You’ve been studying from home while homeschooling two children. How did you manage?
I had to put on many different hats. In the ‘normal’ world, I could wear my ‘student’ hat during the day while the kids are at school. Then in the afternoon, I’d put my ‘daddy’ hat on to pick the kids up and prepare dinner. But in the pandemic world, I’m wearing all the hats at once.
It was challenging to have online lectures at a time when the kids were hungry or really active. Thankfully, they record the lectures so that I could watch later, but it still disrupts your flow and study rhythm.
It was fun as well. I had more bonding time with the kids. We were walking, biking and getting to see more of our local neighbourhood. We had to be more physical because we were eating more than normal. When you’re home all day, it’s hard to be socially distant from the kitchen!
How did your university support you during this time?
The International Student Services asked us volunteers what they could do to help support international students. Using the university’s Collaborate system, they set up a regular session for international student services volunteers and Flinders staff to talk pop in and talk about what students were facing.
For international students, there was a lot of uncertainty around financial support. The university quickly came up with grants and gift cards, which were a lifeline. I got a gift card from the Flinders University Student Association (FUSA). We knew we could make a grocery gift card last because we’re very prudent. The university also has the Matthew Flinders Scholarship, and the Government of South Australia offered a support payment for international students. I feel lucky that we chose South Australia because they take care of whoever is here.
How do you feel now, and what do you think comes next?
I’m relieved to see South Australia is controlling this. I’m a bit concerned that our neighbouring states are facing trouble and I want to play on the safe side and be prepared if things flare up. But it’s good to see restaurants opening and trying to revive the economy again. Hopefully, in the next semester, we can go back to university and get used to our new normal of interacting but with social distancing.View all Stories