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Moving back home. Social distancing. Part-time jobs lost. For our students, a lot has changed since COVID-19 hit. We spoke to three students about how the outbreak has impacted their lives and how they are managing.

CEF Grenfell grant recipient Francesca, is currently completing her third and final year of a Bachelor of Arts degree, majoring in Dance at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts in Perth. With the school closing temporarily, Francesca headed home to Grenfell.

“Studying dance is obviously a very collaborative and practically based course, so not physically being in the studio with my teachers and peers has had quite a significant impact on my studies.

“Completing a degree in the performing arts requires a majority of our training and preparation to come from the public performance seasons we hold three times a year.

“These large scale and high production performances create the basis for our marks and they are something that us as students are constantly striving towards, helping to motivate us through the intense training.”

Already missing out on one of the three seasons for the year has significantly impacted the course of my studies as I will no longer be able to graduate by the end of the year.

Francesca – CEF Grenfell grant recipient

Even though I’m at home in isolation, my workload is no less intense than before.

“For me, it’s been really crucial that during this time I try and keep a regular routine, similar to something I would follow whilst I’m at school. I do this to ensure that it’s not such an immense adjustment mentally as well as fitness wise when I do get notified that it’s safe to return to school. It allows me to jump back into an extremely rigorous schedule without risking injury as opposed to if I had spent this whole time doing absolutely nothing.”

To help imitate a studio space to do my practical classes, with help from my dad, I’ve created a makeshift dance studio with a homemade ballet barre in our back room. The linoleum flooring is the closest match to the Tarkett floors that we usually dance on in the studio, making it a lot easier and safer to dance on than the polished floor boards in other areas of the house. “

Cecily is studying nutrition and dietetics at the University of Wollongong and has been supported through her study since 2016 by the Harden District Education Foundation. Now in her fourth year and working on her Deans Scholar thesis, 2020 was supposed to be full of practical placements across the country.

Everything is going ok for now. I am in Young and 3 weeks into my first placement and because there are not a lot of COVID cases down here it is probably a safe place to be.

“So far, I know that my Tasmania placement has been made remote because of the long quarantine period. What is good news though is that they haven’t cancelled the placement, instead I am just doing the projects they wanted me to do from home. Thankfully for the time being, no changes have been made to my July placements which is good.”

I am not working at the moment because of a job stand down so I am just staying calm and focused on university … in short, I am doing my best.

“I am doing lots of community-based projects for the hospital here and am really enjoying applying all that I have learnt. Plus, it’s really nice to be at home with my family although, I do miss my pets in Wollongong a little!”

Cecily – Harden and District Education Fund grant recipient and Audi Foundation-CEF scholar

In late February, Sean moved from Broken Hill in far west NSW to study a Bachelor of Business at the International College of Management Sydney (ICMS). A month later, when on a brief home visit, he received a message from the college that the campus and the accommodation had been shut down.

Sean – Eureka Benevolent Foundation scholar (Broken Hill)

I had only one weeks’ worth of clothes and my laptop and was unable to travel back to Sydney to collect my things.

“Although the transition was quick and simple, I feel it has personally impacted the effectiveness of my studies. Studying online rather than in the classroom impacts my motivation, commitment, and concentration.

“All the classes are 3 hours long with minimal breaks and that amount of time spent at the screen is a significantly different experience to 3 hours in an interactive classroom with physical activities – but we must make the best of this situation and keep striving towards our goals.

“My mum works for the Royal Flying Doctor Service which adds another level of necessary security and isolation for the rest of the family. If anyone contracts COVID-19, it could reach all the nurses in Broken Hill which is a serious issue especially due to the elderly population of the town. It could also reach the more rural areas that she flies to for work.”

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Author laura

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