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Puteri: Celebrating Eid during COVID-19 restrictions

When Puteri arrived in Adelaide, she looked forward to celebrating her first Eid away from home with an open house for lots of friends. But COVID-19 had other plans, so rather than a large group gathering, Puteri and her friends hosted a smaller celebration that marked the special occasion in a responsible way. We spoke to Puteri to find out how she’s managed life in Adelaide during the COVID-19 crisis.

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Where were you when the COVID-19 crisis began?

I was in Adelaide. I arrived from Malaysia in February to begin my Bachelor of Business (Finance) at the University of South Australia. At that time, we didn’t need to isolate or quarantine. I went to orientation and had about four-weeks of classes on campus before we changed to online study.

Tell us how you celebrated Eid during the lockdown restrictions.

I live in a private rental house with friends from Malaysia. We hoped to have a big Eid celebration, but because of the pandemic, the number of people we could have to our open house was quite small.

We were limited to only 10 people at a time, which was really five guests because there are five of us in the house already. We arranged for small groups to come at specific times. We asked everyone to RSVP so we could manage the rolling schedule. We had 20 guests come to us over four sessions. One group would come over for an hour, then they would leave, and the next group could come.

This was quite different from what I’m used to in Kuala Lumpur, where we have a lot more people come to celebrate together. But we wanted to do the right thing and be responsible. We had hand sanitiser for people to use when they arrived and made sure we followed the rules.

It’s sad to be celebrating Eid away from my family for the first time, but holding our open house was a good distraction. We still enjoyed cooking and eating, and we took photos with our guests in the yard. But we know we’re not alone in this because in Malaysia too, they’re celebrating Eid with smaller gatherings. Hopefully, next year we can have one big open house again.

How have you adapted to online study?

One of the good things about studying online is that I don’t have to get ready as early in the morning. I have more time to myself and don’t have to rush or anything. Though more time makes it easier to procrastinate. At first, it was tricky to get used to Zoom and listening to lectures online, but I’ve gotten used to it now. My lecturers are very quick to respond to questions and have been checking in to make sure I understand everything.

Tell me how COVID-19 has impacted your social life in Adelaide.

It’s had quite an impact on my social life. When I came here, my mum told me to come home with some Australian friends, but I haven’t had much of a chance to meet people yet. I’m lucky to live with friends from home, but it would be nice to get out more and make new friends, too. I’m feeling confident we’ll be able to go back on campus for some tutorials next semester. Hopefully, I’ll meet those new friends soon.

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

I’m very thankful to be living in Adelaide because we can still go out if we practice social distancing. In Malaysia, you’re not allowed to go out, so I’m really thankful to be able to get fresh air and walk around the city. As the restrictions ease, I’m planning to get out to explore more of Adelaide and visit the zoo and art gallery. I enjoy the serenity here. It’s different from the traffic jams and tall buildings in KL and reminds me of my hometown in Johor.

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