Business across borders: international students stay connected at home

What does a day in the life of an international student studying from home look like during a global pandemic?

With many universities halting face-to-face teaching and embracing the online landscape amid the coronavirus outbreak, international students such as UNSW Business School’s Nathasia Kumala have embarked on a new journey in the comforts of her home in Indonesia.

The second year undergraduate Bachelor of Actuarial studies student describes the experience as a learning curve featuring supportive teachers who provide guidance every step along the way, with, “UNSW really adapting well to the current situation.”

Nathasia begins her morning before a day of study, with breakfast and exercise.

“I'm a morning person, so I usually put my own classes early in the morning. I try to wake up early and then get refreshed before a day of study” she said.

For other students who are embarking on this journey she encourages them to adopt the mindset that you are still studying full-time and recommends organising a weekly planner to help with this.

Having this diary allows her to organise her days accordingly and is a space where she writes when assessments are due, so she doesn’t fall behind.

“Just like how you do it when you're doing face-to-face study at uni,” she said.

To stay motivated and positive she spends time virtually to catch up with her friends.

“It’s really good to have a few catch up sessions with your friends, study sessions together and then talk with people you know.”

Through social media such as Tik-Tok and through Zoom she stays connected with friends from all around.

Initially time zones were a challenge for Nathasia, but as her lectures were being recorded this allows her to catch up at a time suitable to her schedule.

Nathasia also stays connected with UNSW through her tutorials and makes a conscious effort to engage more than she did when studying face-to-face in Sydney.

When Nathasia wants to take a break from study she spends time with her siblings, where they can watch a movie together or have a meal.

She also emphasised if you need support UNSW provides services to help you through this unprecedented time.

For UNSW Business School postgraduate student Chunzhi Yang focusing on maintaining a positive outlook for the future whilst working on the skills to ready him for his career is keeping him motivated during this time.

“Other than working hard on my coursework, (I’m) also using this time to refine the skills and qualifications, that my career needs,” he said.

The Master of Financial Analysis student is studying online from China and described his online experience as fun and flexible.

Before a day of study Chunzhi has breakfast and exercises so he can be rejuvenated in preparation for the day ahead.

Chunzhi said the atmosphere of home study is quite different to university, and more relaxed, and doesn’t have the hustle and bustle of campus where you are surrounded by other students in the university environment.

He suggests focusing on a good state of mind ready for study. He also recommends additional study for at least two hours a day for four days a week in preparation for examinations and final exams to reduce future stress.

Chunzhi said apps such as Microsoft Teams help him stay connected with his peers and to UNSW.

In his auditing course they use Microsoft Teams to do appraisal announcements and upload attendance sheets where everyone can communicate and stay in touch on a personal level.

Chunzhi’s favourite way to connect with his friends is through playing video games.

“You play video games with your friends, you can talk with your friends online, share some life experience recently and make some jokes,” he said.

When he needs to take a break from study, he enjoys cooking where he can reflect on the day and plan what he wants to do in the next.