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Shivani - Mauritius - Monash University

Shivani moved from her home in Mauritius to Melbourne in 2015 to study a Bachelor of Engineering (Hons.) at Monash University. Starting as a graduate engineer in March 2020 meant she needed to be ready to adapt to the new work environment created by COVID-19.

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The 2020 work environment

I have started working as a graduate acoustics engineer with the engineering consulting firm Aurecon, in their Melbourne branch. I was able to start one week of my employment in March 2020 before being required to work from home, in-line with government advice.

The main change for me has been setting up a comfortable workspace at home. It has been challenging working from home as a new starter because of the need for more guidance and advice from senior engineers in the team. However, my team has been incredibly supportive and created a virtual environment where I feel comfortable asking questions despite the lack of face-to-face conversations, and I am very grateful for that.

Developing new skills and being an Angel Next Door

I have been looking for opportunities to give back to my community. I have registered as a volunteer on the website Angel Next Door, a website that allows people to post about help they need and for volunteers to offer assistance.

I am using this time to gain new skills and develop my creative interests such as knitting, crochet and painting. I have also been spending time cooking, which is one of my favourite hobbies. I am considering taking up some online courses, such as coding or app development, as I want to enhance my skills in this field.

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Being independent and seeking support

As an international student who lives with one flat mate, I am used to being quite independent and taking care of myself. But, it has been challenging to obtain groceries due to the major shortages, and the limitation of having to use public transport, meaning I can carry a limited amount for each trip.

Another challenge that many of us encounter is the absence of moral support since we are far away from our families, and most of us get that support from our friends in Australia. Having to stay home and not being able to see our friends has affected the level of support we can give to and receive from one another. However, I feel very grateful to be able to keep in touch with my family and friends via online chat and video call and, since I am not living alone, I am able to get support from my flat mate. I wish to acknowledge the great privilege I have in not facing hardships at this testing time, unlike many other international students.

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The united international community

While this is a tough time, international students should remember to support one another by regularly checking in and offering support for others to share their worries and concerns and feel less lonely. We also have to turn to the independent organisations helping international students through financial and other types of support.

We should also remember that, as international students, we have all demonstrated significant resilience in the past by moving to Australia and quickly adapting while maintaining our academic performance. We need to acknowledge our strength and use our past experiences to show resilience again, finding ways to feel positive despite the hardships and trauma generated by this pandemic.

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