Studying Abroad: Interrupted- My Experience Studying Abroad with COVID-19 PART Three- Choosing to Stay

Link to Part One:

Link to Part Two:

After lockdown, Sydney was different. The world in its entirety was different, I suppose. But I had hope once again. So much was still difficult, but Sydney felt even more like home than my actual home. I guess after loving a place and the people in it so much during a most difficult time, you know you can love them even more when things are good. At this point, the end of my program was approaching, my housing contract and classes coming to an end, and friends were taking off to their home countries. We were lucky enough that the COVID-19 numbers had taken such a hopeful turn in Australia that we could make a few last memories before we parted ways.

Getting to go to Target and shop for non-essentials again.
Getting a private Sydney Tower Skywalk tour when they re-opened.
Seeing the cheeky koalas at WILDLIFE Sydney.
And kayaking in the beautiful Lavender Bay.

Things were truly looking up, but I still felt I hadn’t gotten the study abroad experience I’d worked so hard for. Meanwhile, the case numbers in the United States were growing out of proportion. I still felt safer in Australia, I was so happy and grateful to be here now, and I still had the feeling in my gut that told me staying in Sydney was the right thing to do. So I calculated the costs, wrote out a new budget, and applied to study abroad for another semester.

The costs were almost less than my out-of-state tuition back home, especially now that I didn’t have to purchase a flight and started receiving a few refunds from cancelled plans. I started looking for a job now that things were opening again, and I started my search for more financially sustainable accommodation. I was thrilled to find both in one when I saw the listing for an au pair position.

I didn’t know much about being an au pair at the time, but learned a lot as I accepted an invitation to apply for a position with a happy Australian family. Being an au pair, which I’ll talk about more in my next blog post, is basically working as a live-in nanny in exchange for housing, food, and pocket money. I’d always imagined what it would be like living with a host family, and soon that dream was coming true as they asked me to move in and start not long after an interview and a trial run with their children. This set-up looked great- working just 15 hours a week for food and living expenses, I would still have plenty of time for my studies and a bit of time to build a social life again. While the experience didn’t turn out to be everything I expected, it taught me so much, and gave me a safe, happy home for a few good months before I decided to take off and live independently. The experience was unbeatable, and definitely made me very secure in my decision to extend my studies abroad.

Overall, I’m very happy I chose to stay in Australia, and I’m still not quite ready to leave yet as I’m currently looking into extending again. This year has had ups that I wouldn’t trade for almost anything, and downs that I sometimes wish I could forget, but 2020 has changed me forever, and I am so happy with who I am and where I am today because of my experiences studying abroad. This is a time in my life that I will never forget and will always cherish.

– Robynn P. from Down Under

Read all about my experience as an au pair here:

*The writing and photos here are meant for use on and are not to be copied or redistributed by other entities without permission from the author.

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