International Students Return to the Gold Coast

Study 

The Australian Government’s decision to reopen our international borders in late 2021 was a welcome relief for the education sector, particularly our international students who have been patiently and, in many cases, exasperatingly waiting for their opportunity to finally commence their studies onshore.

There are many thousands yet to make their journey, but some of the lucky few who were the first to arrive on the Gold Coast have kindly shared their insights into their experiences of the pandemic and their frustrations of not being able to study here.

Duwon Ha recently checked in at Griffith College. The South Korean student has been waiting two years for permission to travel and has mixed feelings about his experience.

“It was pretty sad being stuck at home. I should have been in Australia, but I could not go, however, studying online wasn’t too bad. I was able to keep up with what was happening here because my agency was always sharing new information to Facebook. Now after two years I’m finally here! I’m happy, but also sad at the same time. I would like to stay on here, I think Australia is a nice country not only for studying but living as well.”

Getting information

Chilean student Josefa Troncoso was the first international enrolment for The Language Academy to arrive on the Gold Coast and like Duwon, has been waiting two years for this opportunity.

“Even though it was difficult for me to get information about what was happening in Australia while I was waiting The Language Academy stayed in touch with me regularly. During that time they helped me to apply for my visa and they even found accommodation for me when I got here. All of their staff have been so kind and helpful. I am so happy now that I am here, everything is so relaxed and I feel very much at home,” she says.

Josefa Troncoso at The Language Academy

Hershey P. Noble is from the Philippines and is studying nursing at Southern Cross University. She says coming to Australia has been a big challenge because of the pandemic.

“I had a roller coaster ride of emotions as complications arose in commencing my course that was supposed to start in 2020. But one of the best things that happened was that Southern Cross University stayed with us until we set foot in Australia. The University’s representative Ms. Linda Eather even picked us up from the airport and assisted us in checking in at the hotel where we stayed, making sure that we were all safe and well. For an international student like myself, the university’s presence is something I really appreciate and will remember as part of my journey here in Australia,” Hershey says.

 

Challenges

Canadian students Leah Robinson and Abby Comeau have both been studying their Masters of Nutrition and Dietetic Practice remotely through Bond University since May, 2020 and were two of the very first students to arrive on the Gold Coast in December, having to quarantine upon arrival.

“The travelling process was pretty weird compared to normal travelling, you had to have all your documents in line and ready to go, and we were nervous that we could get turned down at any point, if we didn’t qualify or there was a miscommunication, so that was nerve-wracking, but it all went smoothly,” Ms Robinson explained. Leah went on to say that Bond University had made the remote learning process as accessible as possible.

“There were a few challenges, but they really worked with us because there were nine remote students, so we were all in various different countries and they made it as smooth as possible,” she says.

Leah (left) and Abby (right) in Quarantine

Griffith College student Kaiza Bertha Namuli is from Uganda. For Kaiza the biggest problem was physically getting here.

Flight cancellations

“Personally, the most difficult part with arranging my journey to the Gold Coast was securing an air carrier. There was a lot of uncertainty due to the Omicron variant. A lot of cities had shut down so airlines had to find other route options or just suspend their flights for an undefined period. This hindered my timing since I had to make alterations to my travel plans after every other week while paying charges until I was able to get a suitable carrier,” she says.

“I know a lot of students have been waiting to get here and being among the first to arrive feels nice. Mostly, it’s a lot of relief and a lot of excitement, but it also feels so surreal. I just have to keep reminding myself that it is real and I am finally on the Gold Coast after two years of waiting.”