AFTER a disruptive last two years the first group of international university students forced to study offshore due to COVID-19 have arrived back on campuses.
Wagga Charles Sturt University student Nicole Sims was among the first eight international students to arrive back in Australia.
Miss Sims had spent a whole of two nights in Wagga student accommodation before she was "locked out" of the country for more than a year due to border closures.
"I came for a few days for orientation, I'm doing my doctorate philosophy in the areas of psychology and journalism and I'm part-time at the psychology school," she said.
"I settled into my accommodation and then I went home to wait for my visa to be finalised, but then the borders closed."
If you ask Miss Sims how the experience was, she would tell you; rough and tumultuous.
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"In the beginning, you go into survival mode and try and adjust. For the first half of the year, it was rough trying to adjust to time zone differences and schedules. After that, I started going downhill and burning out," she said.
Miss Sims said studying at Wagga CSU was never a negotiation.
"My main attraction to Wagga was having the supervisors that I have," she said.
She explains that living between two worlds had been tiresome and frustrating.
"I had left my things in Wagga and when the borders closed they said I could leave my things [in student accommodation]," she said.
"A year later when I checked in to see if I needed to start paying they said they had put my things into storage and someone else has been living in my room.
"They asked me to come and collect my stuff and I told them I couldn't, I wasn't in the country, so my supervisors went to collect my things.
"When I came back to Wagga, I checked my things and realised they had only given my supervisor a third of my belongings.
"I was told to go to a storage area and had to fish out my things from various compartments which was a rough part of the experience for me."
Charles Sturt Vice-Chancellor Professor Renée Leon said the University has been working with the federal and state governments and Study NSW since the start of the pandemic to return international students through the NSW Vice-Chancellors Committee pilot plan.
"The University's International Student Support team has been supporting students in the lead up to their arrival and this team will continue to provide on-campus assistance," she said.
Prior to the pandemic, the Wagga campus hosted an average of 100 international students each year.
While the pandemic saw that number sparse, the campus will likely see an influx of international students to come.
"With the decision taken to close the university's Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne international study centres, more international students will be studying at our regional campuses, including Wagga, in the future," a spokesperson for CSU said.
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