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Melinda: Making new friends and keeping busy in Adelaide

At the start of 2020, Melinda didn’t know how a global pandemic would define the final year of her social work degree. But Melinda hasn’t let that slow her down. She’s continued her study path, kept up a busy work schedule and even made a new friend, all while in lockdown. We spoke to Melinda to find out more about her experiences in Adelaide during the coronavirus pandemic.

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Where were you when the COVID-19 crisis began?

Usually, I would go back to Hong Kong in the summer, but this year I decided to stay in Adelaide to work and take a summer course. As I saw the situation get worse in Asia, I was quite worried and kept checking in the make sure my family and friends were ok.

Tell us how our Friends of the World events helped you find a new friend during the lockdown.

I’ve been joining in on some of the Friends of the World events, and I unexpectedly met a new friend from Japan. She was interested in learning Mandarin, and I wanted to learn Japanese, so we started messaging and having video calls to practice our new languages. We ’meet’ online once a week and we’ll meet face-to-face soon. Besides the language exchange, we’ve become good friends and laugh so much during our sessions. I really love the Friends of the World events.

Tell us about how COVID-19 impacted your work life.

I work at Unibuddy at the University of South Australia, helping with enquiries from international students. I was there over the summer, but when the campus closed, I couldn’t work there anymore. After that, I got an opportunity to work remotely on the Student Hardship Fund (COVID-19) project. The fund helps students who are struggling with living costs because of the pandemic.

I also volunteer at Oaktree in community engagement, and I’m a student ambassador with StudyAdelaide. I’m still busy, but without the Coronavirus, I’d be even busier. I love doing all this different stuff. I get to learn from every position, and it’s a way to do something more than study.

Tell us how you’ve been looking after yourself at home?

I live in a shared room, so sometimes it’s been hard to be stuck inside. I like to get out to go hiking at Morialta Conservation Park. I also made a little self-care corner where I put a diffuser, candle and things that make me feel relaxed.  When I feel stressed, I go there.  I have a daily routine including reading and stretching to help maintain my motivation and make sure my physical and mental health are doing well.

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

Adelaide is a beautiful place, and the South Australian government is doing a great job, but I hope it will be over soon. I love travelling and was planning to go to Perth to visit a friend and go to a music festival, but now I can’t.  And I really want to go to Hong Kong to vote in September.  I’ll have to decide when I know more about the borders. Some things are still unknown.

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