Engineering through a pandemic
Course: Bachelor of Engineering (Hons)
Institute: Monash University
Location: Melbourne, Victoria
Shivani moved from her home in Mauritius to Melbourne in 2015 to study a Bachelor of Engineering (Hons.) at Monash University. Starting as a graduate engineer in March 2020 meant she needed to be ready to adapt to the new work environment created by COVID-19.
The 2020 work environment
I have started working as a graduate acoustics engineer with the
engineering consulting firm Aurecon, in their Melbourne branch. I was able
to start one week of my employment in March 2020 before being required to
work from home, in-line with government advice.
The main change for me has been setting up a comfortable workspace at home.
It has been challenging working from home as a new starter because of the
need for more guidance and advice from senior engineers in the team.
However, my team has been incredibly supportive and created a virtual
environment where I feel comfortable asking questions despite the lack of
face-to-face conversations, and I am very grateful for that.
Developing new skills and being an Angel Next Door
I have been looking for opportunities to give back to my community. I have
registered as a volunteer on the website Angel Next Door, a website that
allows people to post about help they need and for volunteers to offer
I am using this time to gain new skills and develop my creative interests
such as knitting, crochet and painting. I have also been spending time
cooking, which is one of my favourite hobbies. I am considering taking up
some online courses, such as coding or app development, as I want to
enhance my skills in this field.
Being independent and seeking support
As an international student who lives with one flat mate, I am used to
being quite independent and taking care of myself. But, it has been
challenging to obtain groceries due to the major shortages, and the
limitation of having to use public transport, meaning I can carry a limited
amount for each trip.
Another challenge that many of us encounter is the absence of moral support
since we are far away from our families, and most of us get that support
from our friends in Australia. Having to stay home and not being able to
see our friends has affected the level of support we can give to and
receive from one another. However, I feel very grateful to be able to keep
in touch with my family and friends via online chat and video call and,
since I am not living alone, I am able to get support from my flat mate. I
wish to acknowledge the great privilege I have in not facing hardships at
this testing time, unlike many other international students.
The united international community
While this is a tough time, international students should remember to
support one another by regularly checking in and offering support for
others to share their worries and concerns and feel less lonely. We also
have to turn to the independent organisations helping international
students through financial and other types of support.
We should also remember that, as international students, we have all
demonstrated significant resilience in the past by moving to Australia and
quickly adapting while maintaining our academic performance. We need to
acknowledge our strength and use our past experiences to show resilience
again, finding ways to feel positive despite the hardships and trauma
generated by this pandemic.