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An Indian student’s long-awaited touchdown in Australia

Australian government
Despite rising cases and the new Omicron variant, PM Scott Morrison rules out new COVID-19 lockdowns which have come as a relief to many. Source: Arshpreet Kaur

Despite rising cases spurred by the  Omicron variant, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has ruled out  new lockdowns and travel bans. Arshpreet Kaur, one of the first international students from India to return to Australia, is thankful for this.

She’s keen to finally resume her programme at the University of Sunshine Coast in person. After being locked out of the country for more than a year, she’s now able to complete her master’s degree in information and communication technology.

Although the travel ban was rough on her and many others, Kaur now expresses gratitude towards the Australian government for letting her return.

Below, we talk to her about what it feels like to finally return to Australia, what the journey was like, and why she’s glad she no longer has to attend online classes:

How did you gain interest in information and communication technology?

I chose to do my master’s in information and communication technology because as a career, it’s the better choice. It’s one of the fastest-growing sectors currently and there are more job opportunities with high salaries in this industry all over the world.

Moreover, Steve Jobs was my inspiration to pick this field. He was the driving force behind Apple. “Stay hungry, stay foolish,” he said once. It means when you stay hungry, you work on bringing quality to the table and staying foolish means to follow your aspirations.

Australian government

“Australia is globally distinguished for its technology-driven education system and the country also provides a conducive and safe environment for learning — especially for international students,” she says. Source: Arshpreet Kaur

What made you choose to study in Australia?

Australia is globally distinguished for its technology-driven education system and the country also provides a conducive and safe environment for learning — especially for international students. 

Some of my friends study in Australia and I was pretty impressed by their experiences. I remember my first day at uni, I was a little nervous but the staff and professors were very friendly. 

I love the on-campus study lessons and during exam periods, I spend long hours at the uni. Sometimes it was stressful, especially during the last month of the semesters because of the long assignments and exams. 

However, overall, I’ve enjoyed my time and learned skills which will help me progress in my career. 

With the Australian government keeping the travel ban in place for so long, what were some of the obstacles you faced?

The reason I had so much regret last year was all due to the travel ban imposed by the Australian government. As a stranded student, I’ve experienced both on and off-campus study. 

With this, difficulties during online studies surfaced. I got fed up with the different time zones, poor internet connection and excessive screen time which led to painful headaches. Throughout this whole ordeal, my professor helped me a lot and showed concern for my situation. 

Sometimes, they gave me extensions on my assignments which was really helpful.

Australian government

Arshpreet Kaur feels grateful she’s able to return to Australia. Source: Arshpreet Kaur

What was the process like to return to Australia?

As I’ve just finished my studies this month, I’m using this bonus time to decide what to do next which has led me to pursue further studies. The Australian government is welcoming international students, especially the stranded ones.

The international students need a valid student visa, COE, passport, OSHC, international vaccination certificate linked to the passport (TGA-approved vaccine), and a negative PCR test report (72 hours before arriving). In addition, the ones arriving need to complete an Australia Travel Declaration (ATD) form at least 72 hours before departure. 

If you want to travel interstate, you need to declare a border permit to declare. Without all of these documents, you won’t be allowed to travel. 

You should check the Australian Home Affairs website for the needed documents. 

What’s the first thing you did since your return to Australia?

I took the COVID-19 test in the country to keep myself and the community safe. This is something all arriving international students should do. 

What’s your advice for those who want to study in Australia?

Australia is a beautiful country and very safe for international students. It also has one of the best higher education systems in the world. From my personal experience, studying in this country helps build your self-esteem as well as develop and improve your learning.