Week in my life: 16 – 22 March 2020 (Part 2: COVID situation)

Thursday 19 March 2020:

What. A Turn. Of Events. Today was such an intense crazy day of receiving replies, sending out emails (loads of them), trying to figure out how everything works in this unprecedented and volatile times that we’re living in right now.

Started off the day by going for tutorial (the last of the physical one) and we managed to catch up with the topic coordinator if it was possible to complete the module online. Basically, our plan was to get in touch with the people in charge for each of the 4 modules we were taking this semester, and try to get answers with whether the whole module could be done online as well as updates regarding future exams. This was because we were all entertaining the possible idea of flying back home to Singapore given that our government has made the call encouraging Singaporean students studying abroad to return home as well, not just those on exchange programs. But at the same time, we didn’t want to up and leave everything without ironing the details.

Went back home, sat at the dining table together with the rest of my housemates. We furiously sent many emails out to all the people we could reach out to, the topic coordinators, our course lead, the dean of education for our college, Singapore contacts… it was hectic, stress-filled and my anxiety levels were rising – we just got news that the last direct flight from Adelaide back to Singapore via SIA (our national carrier) would be on 24 March 2020 and all of us were panicking about the short time limit we have to get everything settled.

The staff at Flinders University were really extremely helpful, and I am so grateful for all their quick responses thus far towards all our concerns. By evening, we had the green light from 2 modules saying that it would be completely possible to shift everything online and do it in Singapore. As for the remaining 2, due to the examinable nature, the situation was a little tricky and more complex hence things were still uncertain.

Stress eating was my way of coping. That, and hiking. I took a walk around my school campus and stumbled upon this hiking trail I never knew existed in my school. The 40 minute outdoors, mostly alone with nothing else but my music, really helped to calm me down and bring me back to level-headedness.

Went home, ate dinner, bathed. Was just starting on one of my assignments when one particular email came. I was a bit shocked, because that email was the trigger – it sort of gave us the green light to just book flights home even when the academic situation has yet to be clarified fully. That email sent a whole new bout of flurry, and our house convened at the dining table for yet another house meeting to decided whether or not to go ahead with buying airline tickets. The email seems pretty clear of its directive, but we decided to wait till the next day for a second confirmation (we sent a follow up email asking for a double confirmation) and also because the teaching staff sent us international students an email, stating that they would convene tomorrow to discuss plans for international students and would get back to us.

11:45PM

Just checked flight prices for the date we wanted to fly, and prices were already increasing by $90. Went into one of my housemate’s room to discuss and suddenly it became a third house meeting – we just decided to go ahead and book flight tickets instead of waiting any longer. Was afraid that a mere few hours delay would cause prices to soar even more, and seats to run out.

Friday 20 March 2020 (12:20AM)

We did it. We booked our flights home.

I can’t believe this whole situation. Just about 5 weeks ago, I landed here in Adelaide to get away from the situation in Singapore and ensure my Uni studies will not be disrupted. And here I am, 5 weeks later, booking another flight back to take me home. I was super relieved right after buying my flight tickets home, because now there is some form of certainty about what the near future holds instead of worrying constantly about all the numerous possibilities of staying here, which was the case the previous few days. Truly taken a toll on my mental health.

7:45AM

Woke up early despite sleeping late yesterday (or rather the wee hours of today). Now that everything has settled, I’m actually feeling a little sad – sad that I have to leave this second home of mine in a few days. One part of me knows that I’m going to miss the chilled slow paced life here, the supermarkets (when they were stocked with loads of food with cheap pricing and enormous variety that surpasses Singapore’s), the beautiful skies, the campus, my room, the freedom of living alone… ahhhh I don’t know. Am in a kind of emotional turmoil now, but I suppose deep down it’s best for me to go back to Singapore and be with my family in times like these.

On that note, I’m just so wholly grateful to be a Singaporean, so grateful for all the support provided by all the various Singaporean agencies and networks. They’ve been constantly reaching out to us, providing information and advice for students studying abroad and basically with the whole ‘leave no Singaporean behind’. The main reason why I’m going back is because I know I have a reliable system to fall back upon in case of emergencies – I trust my government, I trust my healthcare system and also there will be the emotional support of my friends and family.

I’m overwhelmed slightly. This whole situation is going to take studying abroad to a whole new level – it’s testing the flexibilities of the education system and the responsiveness and adaptability of our society. One step at a time I suppose, everyone is unsure about how everything is going to play out in the next few months, so we should just stay positive and hope for the best. Most importantly, be kind. Everyone is going through rough times, let’s all support and help one another tide through this stormy weather.

12:00PM

This is it. Just ended a meeting with the person in charge of our Uni lodging and it’s confirmed that we have to pack up every single thing in our rooms and leave nothing behind. It’s a good thing I have a few days before flying off – my room has SO MUCH stuff and I need to figure out where to store them for the duration that I’ll be leaving.

Literally unpacked everything a month or so ago, and now I have to pack every single thing again. Since the past year, I’ve experienced having to pack a huge amount of belongings in a super tight time frame – this will be the third time I’m catching a flight so suddenly. I guess you can say I have a bit of experience in rush packing.

Nevertheless, it’s still really draining and tiring to have to find boxes and areas to stuff all my little knick knacks. And there’s also the problem of trying to squeeze my mountain of clothes into the luggage home. WHY oh WHY did I bring so many clothes over ??? Note to anyone studying abroad: don’t attempt to bring all your nice clothes over because chances are: 1. You’ll hardly wear them 2. You’ll end up buying more new clothes wherever you are.

Squeezed in a quick cardio session at the gym – I need a break from all that monotonous packing and just as a form of stress reliever given that so much has happened within such a short span of time. Currently, I would say I’m about 70% done with packing? There’s still 3 more days to go so I think progress is pretty good.

Cooked a big pot of vegetable medley, there’s like almost 10 different kinds of vegetables in there because I made the mistake of stocking up on Wed (as I shared in my previous post) and now I’m trying to clear as much as possible. On a good note, this means that over the next few days, I’ll definitely be hitting my recommended vegetable serves (it’s 5 serves per day for those interested).

Saturday/Sunday (21/22 March 2020):

The 2 days went a little like this: work on assignments and stream lectures (still being a good student and trying to keep up with academics despite this whole mess of a situation), do laundry (washing and rewashing the limited pieces of clothing left out; am a bit of a cleanliness freak right now), packing up all the loose items here and there, trying to clear the fridge and cooking + eating repeated meals.

Have also been trying to keep active everyday by going to the gym/going for outdoor hikes (so much less human contact thank goodness my school is in the suburbs on a little hill by its own). Got to make the most out of this freedom as much as possible because the moment I land back in Singapore, I will have to serve a 14 day stay home notice. That means being cooped up inside an apartment for 2 weeks straight, and stepping out is not permitted (not even one foot out to buy groceries or anything). Not sure how I’ll feel about that whole situation but stay updated because I will definitely be blogging about the whole experience.

Tuesday 24 March 2020:

This is the start of a new week already, but I figured I’ll include the day’s worth of events here as well since it’s the last official day here in Adelaide (our flight departs tomorrow morning).

Spent the morning going for a hike around school – this time I took my housemates along with me and we went for a house hike together to get some last bits of exercise and outdoor and nature before we are confined for 14 days back home.

Did a little bit more packing, had lunch and then it was time for our very first online physiology practical! The practical was supposed to be 2 hours only, but due to it being shifted online, an extra hour was given for us to complete and I am so thankful for that because we all spent ages trying to navigate the website and interpreting the sample data that was provided for us. Not gonna lie, I’m low key grateful that the practical has been moved online instead because I don’t do well thinking under pressure especially when we have to work with different groups of strangers every single time.

And then it was time for dinner! Our house had our first and last (in a long time) dinner together in the apartment. Usually, we’d all cook our own separate meals and eat at different timings but for that night we ordered takeaway, cooked some dishes and enjoyed it all together at the same dining table :”) such a bittersweet moment knowing that tomorrow everything is going to change. Truly glad that I was able to spend my last night in Adelaide like this; supported by friends and good company amidst all this panic and uncertainty.

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