Managing stress by connecting with others

When Mousumi started her second semester at Flinders University, she didn’t realise she would soon be juggling online studies while keeping her children home from school. Though Mousumi says it was a stressful time, connecting with other students through her university and StudyAdelaide’s ‘Friends of the World’ helped her manage her stress and focus on her studies.

We spoke to Mousumi to find out more about life in Adelaide during the COVID-19 crisis.

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International student Mousumi from Bangladesh

Where were you when the COVID-19 crisis began?

After arriving in Adelaide in 2019 with my husband and kids, we went back to visit family in Bangladesh over the summer. We returned to Adelaide in February, so we were here settling into our house when the pandemic started to grow.

Tell us how the pandemic impacted your everyday family life.

We were pretty confined at home. Though the schools didn’t close, I stopped sending my kids to around the same time my studies went online.

I usually love having my kids’ friends come to my house, but I didn’t let my kids play with friends or let them come over during this time. It was really difficult, but I made the decision for the safety of my kids and my family. If they got used to playing together and we had to separate later, it would be harder.

We did do things together as a family. My kids loved the new recipes I found on YouTube. We are Muslim and pray five times a day, so we would pray together. We also watched a lot of movies, both English and Indian, which helped us connect and have time together.

How have you found the change to online study?

I do miss the face-to-face environment, but all the teachers have been so cooperative. If I send a message, they respond quickly. Everything has been easier for us because of the teachers. And with the support from Flinders University like their online ‘Learning Lounge’ where we can check our assignments for grammar and referencing. I worried about how I could do this when the campus closed but was happy to see they made that service available online.

I think the biggest challenge was time management and procrastination. It was stressful to balance kids and study, especially with everyone feeling mentally drained. And I was thinking of my parents and family back home, especially my brother, who is a doctor. It was a big adjustment having to prepare and submit assignments while keeping my kids home.

Amid all that stress, were you able to keep in touch with other students?

Yes, our International Student Services held some ‘Talk it Out’ sessions which were a great opportunity to share your feelings and develop communication skills, which is so important for international students.

I’d also like to mention the ‘Friends of the World’ sessions run by StudyAdelaide. I hosted some sessions and attended, as well. They’re a great platform to share ideas, speak in English and spend time with friends. Even if it’s not directly related to my study, the sessions help me reduce my stress, which helps me manage my studies.

How do you feel about being in Adelaide during the pandemic?

I think I’m lucky to be here in Adelaide. The Prime Minister and the Premier are so connected with the people. Especially with their speeches live on Facebook, which directly motivates people to maintain social distancing and hygiene. I’m really impressed and feel fortunate to be here during this pandemic.

How do you feel now? What do you think comes next?

Life in Adelaide is still new to me, and during the pandemic, it’s totally different. I think we’re happy that we have adjusted to this new situation. My next semester may also be online, but I know how to manage it better now. My kids are back at school, and I have started going to the library so that I can concentrate more on my online study.

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