Students' Experiences of COVID-19
1. One student, who wishes to remain anonymous, lives in Paris, France. Here, it is obligatory to carry a paper, explaining why you are outside. If you fail to comply with these rules, you are forced to pay a fine. As rules are relaxed, it has since become compulsory to wear face masks in public. As has been the case with many countries, schools were closed, and lessons moved online with Zoom. This student does not have access to private healthcare, although at least one family member had access to a COVID-19 test, for which they tested positive. The respondent themself has not been tested for the virus, although has displayed symptoms. Fortunately, they feel confident that their family will not bear the brunt of the economic repercussions, and continue to trust the media's coverage of the pandemic.
2. Another anonymous student lives in Melbourne, Australia. They recall, "I have been in isolation like many other people and my classes have been online", continuing to explain that most lessons are hosted through Zoom and Google Classrooms, with workload remaining relatively similar. However, they note that classes are beginning to return, especially for priority students, such as those completing the Victorian Certificate of Education. As many have had to approach exams in less conventional methods, this respondent explains that they are "all online", as "we must have our cameras on us at all times. We cannot move or write anything down to ensure [there is] no cheating. However, since people can still search information online during the test, exams are less important in our grading than they normally would be." As lockdown begins to relax, although remains enforced, this student has found that the state government has reacted "very well" to the disease, in contrast to the flawed response of the federal government.
Finally, this student explains that their mother's mental health has taken more of a toll than their own. They recall,"My mother is a healthcare worker and so she is obviously quite stressed at the moment, but my grandfather is quite ill and living in another state." Sadly, such stories are not uncommon.
3. Emma lives in Massachussetts, USA. Although she believes she will remain financially stable throughout the pandemic, she does recognise that some of her spending habits will need to be adjusted. Prior to the outbreak, she worked at a diner, which has three different locations throughout the town; the particular establishment where she worked was temporarily shut down, in an attempt to save money. Additionally, she works for a catering company that usually provides for weddings, graduations, parties, amongst other events. However, a decrease in such gatherings has left the business with minimal work. Despite this series of unfortunate events, she "[thinks] the management of both these places handled it the best they could", proceeding to explain: "I don't see a way around it."
Emma also needs to complete internships, both for graduating from her current college, and for applying to grad school. Her current internship director has announced that students should still complete this work experience by graduation, despite it being "very difficult" to find internships in the medical field at this time. Overall, Emma feels that her college's communication "has not been the greatest", and believes that many are suffering from the lack of quiet study spaces, and freely available resources. In autumn, she is hoping to apply for physical therapy, although currently lacks the means to accumulate the adequate number of experience hours. She notes:"I have not been notified about the schools excusing the required hours or not so this could affect my future application to certain schools."
She criticises the government's response, explaining: "This virus was known about for a long time before it was blown up by the media. I believe the students studying abroad should’ve been brought home earlier, flights should’ve been shut down sooner, and masks and social distancing should’ve been required sooner. In the US, the stay-at-home orders and reopening of certain areas [are] being decided by the governor of the state, and, for my state, I can say I think my governor is doing very poorly. All of his addresses to the state are full of empty words and he seems like he can’t make a decision. and is just dragging us along for the ride.”
4."C" lives in Singapore. They recall, "It feels like my teachers don’t know what they’re doing but they’re handing out assignment after assignment like it’s nothing. Also, as I am a nursing student, COVID-19 has resulted in my clinicals getting postponed/cancelled so I am feeling quite uncertain about everything now. My income has lessened as well as I am unable to continue my part time business." Regarding lessons, they explain that, although teachers are mainly adhering to their normal timetable, a lot of the education has become self-directed. "The recorded lectures are not informative at all", as the teachers reportedly do very little other than "read the [presentation] slides out". The respondent describes feeling "worn down" as a result of being constantly "cooped up" inside, with eyes glued to a computer screen. They "no longer feel motivated to do anything", and fear their mental state is in decline.
5. One Malaysian student speaks of their experience: although PPE in public is not compulsory, many are opting to wear face masks and gloves. This particular respondent has access to both private healthcare and COVID-19 testing, though both them and their families have tested negative for the disease. They believe that the Malaysian government has neither exceeded nor fallen short of expectations, and find the media to be "somewhat trustworthy". Fortunately, they feel assured that their family will remain financially comfortable.