In an attempt to “flatten the curve” of COVID-19, Australia has changed significantly over the last few months. We’re doing really well thanks to these precautionary measures, but for many of our international students, the lifestyle they dreamed of experiencing upon arrival on our shores has temporarily vanished.
Torrens University Australia has introduced a number of additional measures to support students at this time, in recognition of the challenges they may be facing. We spoke to Julie Pope, International Student Advisor and Melissa Desmarchelier, Lead Counsellor at Torrens University Australia for their advice on how to make the best of the current situation.
Unfortunately, many international students are struggling due to having lost their jobs. At Torrens University we offer many international student support services that may be able to help you at this challenging time.
“For all our students, your first resource for career success should be your Success Coach,” says International Student Advisor, Julie Pope.
Success Coaches can offer one-on-one online appointments, and their work involves reviewing your resume, assisting with cover letters and sharing tips on the best job-search strategies. To find out more and improve your employment outcomes visit the Success Coaches page on our website. Alternatively, you can head to Careers Connect to see the job listings we regularly post here.
Please remember that there are set student visa working hours. Most international students working more than a set number of hours per week – except during the holidays – will be in breach of the student visa maximum working hours. These have changed recently due to COVID-19, so make sure you check the Department of Home Affairs’ website for the latest news.
Ways to Maintain an Income
If you don’t currently have a job in the traditional sense, you can get creative about other ways to generate income. There are a variety of opportunities that you can create for yourself at home.
Why not sign up to a mobile marketplace? Many freelancing and odd-jobs websites such as Airtasker or Fiverr allow you to offer services such as translation, design work or tutoring. Always check with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) before commencing work from home, as you may need an Australian Business Number (ABN).
At Torrens University Australia, we don’t want to minimise your situation. If you’re struggling from severe financial hardship, you can reach out to Torrens University international student support services for a potential fee extension. You can find out more details on our designated page about supporting our students.
Start Building Career Foundations
Use the downtime you have to build your professional network. Refresh your CV, but also think about updating and streamlining your LinkedIn profile. Get a great headshot, craft the perfect bio, and really make your accomplishments shine. If you want to work in certain fields, you may also need a website or portfolio. Now is a good time for you to start building these.
If you’re thinking ahead to graduation, a lot of places are taking online applications and interviews via video conferencing, so visit a job website (such as Torrens Careers Connect, Seek, Indeed and CareerOne) and get ready to practice your professional video chat skills.
Is your resume looking a little bare? This is your chance to complete online short courses and leave lockdown with a few more qualifications, so you are ready when we return to normal.
Finally, if you feel you could benefit from improving your English, enjoy watching English language TV and movies, consume books and other media and find opportunities to communicate in English, both written and spoken.
It’s natural to be feeling displaced at the moment, so you need to be looking after your mental health. We understand that it’s disheartening to not be able to do all the things you thought you might be able to when moving to a new country.
If you’re hungry for even more learning, now is the perfect time to try one of our incredible range of Torrens University online short courses.
Alternatively, make the most of your extra time with these enjoyable, affordable ideas to keep you entertained:
- Go for a hike with a friend in one of Australia’s beautiful national parks
- Have a picnic at the beach or by a lake
- Walk through local botanical gardens or parks
- Have a picnic in your lounge or garden
- Try new online opportunities like free exercise classes, cooking classes or book clubs.
Dealing with Isolation
Feelings of isolation can be magnified if you’re far away from home, or if English is not your first language. No matter your circumstances, it’s important to build support networks and keep your wellbeing in check.
According to Mel Desmarchelier, Lead Counsellor at Torrens University: “Building up our social networks is really important to mental health. Ideally, you would like to build a support network of people who will bring you enjoyable experiences and knowledge.”
Look to your classmates, online meetup groups, social networks or our Student Hub for people and events that align with your interests. Having like-minded friends or people who’ve shared your experiences around you can really help.
Don’t forget about your family and friends in your own country. Make time for regular video chats or calls. Keeping in touch will help provide assurance that you’re safe, and help you feel more connected.
For more information on how to look after your mental wellbeing in Australia, visit the Counselling page on The Hub. You can book an appointment with one of the counsellors – they’ll be happy to talk to you and support you. There is no shame in seeking help, and you can do so free of charge.
We also have a downloadable International Student Guide with all of the state-by-state COVID-19 government initiatives. If you scroll down the page, you will see our online drop in sessions where you can discuss overseas health cover, accommodation, COVID-19 welfare, student visa requirements and more with our International Student Advisors.
In the meantime, please check out the rest of the articles on the Torrens University Australia international students’ blog, for more information and advice.