28 April 2020

Lockdown as an exchange student

Greta Frech

If you read this you are probably an exchange student who is a bit lost and overwhelmed with this whole lockdown situation.

So, I am here to give you some inspiration on what to do to help and tell you a bit about my experience during lockdown. 

Let’s start at the beginning of my experience.

Right before the beginning of the lockdown I had to change my host family. My host father and sister had been in the UK for a funeral and when they came back my school thought it would be safer for me and my host sister from Thailand to move. So, they moved us into the host family of a good friend of mine who is also an exchange student. 

I am glad my school has been so helpful – they really care about us.  

It has been hard adjusting to life in lockdown with the new host family. My good friend ended up leaving New Zealand because of the virus as well as many other Germans, but I decided to stay. When my friend was here, we did a lot of things together such as working out and watching movies. But now without her, I am a bit lonely. 

So, I’ve had to adapt, and if you are in the same situation here are some things you could do to help with the loneliness: 

  • do workouts (even if you are not the “sporty” type of person)                                                       
  • start to write a journal; the lockdown period is part of your exchange experience as well as all the good memories you already made. It’s going to be interesting for you and others to read it in a few years
  • Facetime with your family/friends in your home country; it feels so good to talk to them about everything because these are the people that know you the best
  • do things you normally never do because you always tell yourself “you don’t have time”; annoying things like cleaning your room but also things you like and never “have time for”, for me for example it is writing
  • create a bucket list for New Zealand with all the things you want to do before you leave
  • and last but not least: self-care; especially now that’s pretty important because you have a lot of time for thoughts (positive and negative). Think about what you are grateful for, watch your favourite TV series or do whatever makes you feel comfortable 

Life is not always how we want and plan it to be and even though you are probably as sad as I am that the virus “steals” at least a month of our time here, we learn from it.

You realise how good life is and how grateful we should be to have the opportunity to live the exciting and challenging life of an exchange student. I mean – aren’t we here to learn and grow?! Yes, it’s different than expected but it's still an experience that will help you later on in your life.

So, let’s try to stay positive and if you feel like crying and complaining that’s totally fine because it’s understandable to feel disappointed right now but afterwards you always have to remember the good aspects of life. 

Stay safe everyone and be kind – just remember, you are not alone.

More information

For official COVID-19 information for international students in New Zealand, see The coronavirus: what you need to know.

Check out some more stories from international students in lockdown in New Zealand and get their tips for staying connected and well.

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Greta Frech