Brazilian Student Ambassador Camila Faria had the additional challenge of being a healthcare assistant while studying but has managed to do both
Hello everyone! What’s the craic? Let me introduce myself. My name is Camila and I am from Brazil. I am currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Computing and Information Technolog at CCT Dublin College. I am very excited about writing my first blog as an Education in Ireland Student Ambassador. In it, I will be focusing on my experience as an international student in Ireland during the Covid-19 global pandemic.
Changes and challenges
The pandemic has brought many changes and challenges into our lives including restrictions, constant fear of being infected and spreading the virus, people dying and businesses closing. Pursuing a degree in a foreign country and staying focused on our studies and college activities has been another challenge that we, International students, are dealing with.
When the first lockdown was introduced in March, little did we know that the situation would be extended for so many months. The feeling of anxiety and fear around was intense since no one knew what it would happen for the next couple of months. Many of us have seen friends go back to their home country, changes on plans, people losing jobs or starting to work from home.
Although we are now dealing with mostly negative aspects, there are also positive changes. People started using technology more and more with the work from home scheme being the rule of thumb for companies to keep their businesses running. As a result, people could spend more time at home and get involved with their children school activities.
To keep learning outcomes to high standards, universities put their efforts into moving all lectures and learning material online. Online platforms became a useful tool to help students to keep up their activities and learning goals.
Regular classes at university were delivered through Google Hangouts or Zoom and they were recorded, so we could watch them again after each class. Skype and WhatsApp become more popular for discussions in group assignments and time management became essential to keep up with deadlines.
Online learning has brought some convenient aspects into our lives too with staying and studying at home without having to go to the university turning out to be time-saving. However, not being able to interact with teachers and colleagues makes this a bit difficult, especially regarding having limited and restricted social interaction in general for the past months.
The majority of the international students in Ireland have part-times jobs while studying, including myself, and some of us experienced some changes in our professional activities. Some of the students had their contract of employment suspended or worse terminated, especially those working in the retail and hospitality sector.
In my case, though, work has changed in a different way. I am a healthcare assistant in a private medical institution where most of the residents are over 65. This has brought different aspects of the pandemic closer to me. During my shifts, my colleagues and I were constantly following best practices to contain the virus (wearing PPE and keeping up with extensive disinfection protocols) to protect ourselves and our elderly residents from the virus.
Keeping up with my class schedule and meeting the deadlines for my assignments became very challenging. For a couple of weeks, university activities became meaningless, considering I was working 12-hour shifts in a pressured environment where the numbers of positive cases started to increase.
Finding the motivation to finish the semester and conclude my activities was a big challenge. However, seeing how hard my teachers, the staff of CCT Dublin College and my colleagues were working to maintain our learning process experience reminded me of how much effort I had been putting on my studies for the last two years to accomplish my goals.
Thinking about this helped me to overcome the difficulties and find the strength to keep myself strong and finish the semester and conclude my studies.
Hopefully, with the new vaccines, the Covid-19 pandemic is going to be over and our lives will return to our old routines. No one was prepared for it, but I strongly believe that with a group effort we will be soon back to our normal life.
Camila Faria is doing a QQI Bachelor of Science (Hons) in Computing and Information Technology at the CCT College Dublin