22 June 2020

International students surviving lockdown in New Zealand

Philippa Brown
Digital Content Manager

At 11.59pm on 25 March 2020, New Zealand went into a nationwide high-alert level lockdown to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

The lockdown affected over 60,000 international students in New Zealand. In the videos below, four students share how they coped. 

The “Alert Level 4” lockdown meant that everyone in the country, except those deemed essential workers, had to stay at home and limit their contact to only the people they lived with. The lockdown lasted 4 weeks, after which restrictions were gradually eased as the number of active COVID-19 cases in New Zealand dropped.

For international students, the lockdown period intensified many of the challenges they already face living away from home, friends and family.

Nileshwari from Mumbai, India, said the hardest thing about lockdown was not being able to meet up with her friends every day. Maintaining connections with family and friends is vital for mental wellbeing. To get through lockdown, Nileshwari and her friends arranged to meet online every day instead of in person:

Dinh, from Viet Nam, is studying at high school in New Zealand. During lockdown, he faced challenges of loneliness, anxiety, sadness and study stress. Adapting to online learning was difficult, but he found that it did teach him to manage his time better. He also made sure to take time to do the things he loves like playing the guitar and practising basketball. 

Cindy from China, had only been in the country a few months, starting her PhD, before the lockdown started. The hardest thing for her was dealing with stress about her financial situation. Unable to work because of the lockdown, Cindy kept a lookout online for jobs, but focused most of her attention on her PhD studies. 

CVR, from India, had trouble adjusting to the lockdown at first. But with a positive attitude, he got into the rhythm of a new routine being proactive about staying in contact with his family and classmates. He also included exercise, sunshine and meditation in his daily schedule, because of their importance for his mental health. 

Since 8 June, New Zealand has been at ‘Alert Level 1’ - a low-alert level. Life within New Zealand has few restrictions, although borders remain closed. Schools and tertiary education providers are open again, although students may still be attending classes online.

If you’re an international student in New Zealand, remember to prioritise your personal wellbeing! There are resources to help you do this. We encourage you to visit NauMai NZ, the official New Zealand government site for international students. Find information and advice to help you make the most of your time here. Get started.

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About the contributors
Philippa Brown
Digital Content Manager

Philippa is International Digital Content Manager at Education New Zealand. When she's not sharing stories about what it's like to study in New Zealand, you'll find her out exploring in New Zealand's mountains.