Living with a supportive homestay family during COVID-19

Khuong says her homestay family is the best homestay family. They’ve supported her by looking out for her wellbeing and encouraging her to open up with her worries as she adapts to a new way of studying. We spoke to Khuong about living with a homestay family during the COVID-19 crisis.

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International student Khuong from Vietnam

Where were you when the COVID-19 crisis began?

I was in Vietnam, getting ready to come to Adelaide and start my degree in food and nutrition science. Before my flight, I was afraid I would be isolated for 14 days. I thought I wouldn’t be able to go freely to my new home. I packed all the essentials into my carry-on luggage just in case I couldn’t get to my luggage. Luckily, everything went smoothly. My host family were generous and welcoming. They picked us up at the airport. My dad came with me for the first two weeks and they let him stay in their guest room.

How do you feel about being in Adelaide during COVID-19?

I think the South Australian Government acted pretty soon, so this is good.  They closed the borders, encouraged social distancing, and people stayed home. I feel like they put humanity first. It feels like we’re living in history and will pass our stories to the next generation.

How has your host family supported you during this time?

They are really nice. After my classes and in the evening, they ask how I’m going and how I’m feeling. They keep reminding me to tell them if I feel unwell or isolated. They care about my wellbeing and mental health. Because we have to be home a lot, they take me for drives to get out of the house or we go for a walk.

Do you think living in a homestay has helped you during the COVID-19 crisis?

I don’t have to worry about food or running out of toilet paper. They go to the market and make sure we have what we need. I feel supported. I’m spending way more time at home than I usually would, so I’ve had the chance to observe the Australian culture more. We’ve been gardening on the weekends and my host family are teaching me to bake and cook. They also upgraded their internet plan to make sure we have enough data.

How has COVID-19 impacted your classes?

I enjoyed the first few weeks of university on campus. I got to make friends and meet my teachers. Then we started online studying. Doing practicals online is harder than doing them in person, but I think they’re coping with the situation. My demonstrator films the procedure in the lab so we can watch and ask questions in our Zoom sessions. It does feel a bit strange. It’s not the university life I was imagining. But I’ve been able to have good interactions with my teachers in online tutorials. Hopefully, next semester we’ll be back to enjoying university campus life.

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