COVID-19 has changed the world we live in, including the way we work, study, and even connect with others. Many people have lost jobs, and not been able to pay for basic necessities like food or rent. Now imagine also being thousands of kilometres from home, away from your family and friends, potentially unable to return home, without any financial assistance. This was the reality for a large number of international students at TAFE Queensland.
For Yogamaya Rodriguez from Mexico, who is studying nursing, the pandemic has affected her time in Australia in ways she did not expect.
"COVID-19 has impacted me in a way that it was something very unexpected and it affected me with my studies because I really love to come to campus and I enjoy learning, having the teachers, and being able to tell them all my questions and to interact with other students," she said.
"I really enjoy all the practical stuff so [lockdown] was a bad time for me, but then TAFE gave us a lot of help. For example, we were having all our sessions in Zoom and they arranged us to come and have the practices at labs," she continued.
"I was also working in a coffee shop and they had to close it, so [job losses] affected me too."
During the pandemic TAFE Queensland held food drives in support of international students, like Yogamaya, who were doing it tough.
"When you don't have the opportunity to work because you are isolated at your house, sometimes it was hard to get a lot of things," said Yogamaya.
"TAFE Queensland have been sending emails all the time, they gave us food, frozen meals, toilet paper, and more. It's been really helpful for me and for a lot of students that we can every day get some support and some help."
Sometimes it's the small things that make a difference when it feels like the world is going crazy, something Yogamaya acknowledges.
"I would like to thank TAFE Queensland and all the organisations that have supported the food bank because for us, it means a lot. Sometimes people think it's just something small, but it makes the whole difference," she said.
"It changed everything because knowing that you have something supporting you and helping you it just makes you feel more relaxed, and you are not so anxious because at least you know you have all the basics covered."
"[TAFE Queensland] helped us, they give us a lot of support, which is really good."
Yogamaya originally came to Australia to study English and despite all the challenges of recent months, she hasn't let that impact her plans for the future or passion for health care.
"Right now, I'm doing well. I got another job," she said.
"I am working for an agency and I go and I visit the patients to their homes and I try to help them with different types of things. Sometimes I have to help them with hygiene, sometimes I take them to the shops, sometimes I help them to take their medications, to feed them different things," Yogamaya continued.
"I feel like it's a job that allows me to help them in a really close way and it's very fulfilling to be able to change lives through my career."
"Once I finish my TAFE course, I would like to go to university."