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When Hemshree Pandey learned that Australia was opening its borders to international students and visa holders on December 1, she quit her job and booked a plane ticket.
Stuck in India since the start of the pandemic, she thought she could finally see her fiancé in Australia again and start studying for a master’s degree. For a week she was overjoyed. The paralyzing insecurity she has lived with since March 2020: how long will Australia’s borders be closed, how long will she be willing to put her life on hold, what she can do at home in India knowing that she might have to give it up. Every second was coming to an end, she thought.
The Australian government then postponed the opening of the border for at least two weeks due to the new variant of the Omicron coronavirus.
“I burst into tears when I found out about it,” said 26-year-old Ms. Pandy. “Finally we made an appointment. We were so relieved. And now suddenly it is: what now? “
The emergence of a new version has plunged everyone into another exhausting round of uncertainty. Vacation plans and travel plans for family interstate or overseas travel are suddenly in the air as we wait with bated breath.
Making plans for the future, when a new variant of the coronavirus may appear at any time, is difficult. But this is especially true for those who are stuck between countries, waiting to start or resume life in Australia.
As countries tighten border controls and new cases in Australia that have not traveled abroad are found, international students like Ms Pandy fear that the two-week ban could be extended, putting them back in suspended state.
“I have lost my sleep, I lost my appetite, I don’t know what to do,” she said.
Does she continue to wait, perhaps two weeks, perhaps months? She has already spent several months studying Australia, choosing the right degree to study, applying for admission and obtaining a visa, in addition to the 20 months she has been waiting for. Her fiancé had lived in Australia for many years and began to build a life for both of them.
“Should we just wait and keep waiting? In this case, I am wasting my time. I am already 26. I need to go to magistracy, build a career, ”she said. “If not, then if we move to another country, how many more costs and how many more processes will we have to go through? We’ll have to start all over again. “
Unwilling to study online due to significant time differences, often due to inadequate internet infrastructure and wanting their education to be worth the tens of thousands of dollars they pay, many international students who have put their lives on hold while waiting to come to Australia are earning difficult decisions about what to do in an ever-changing situation.
Janice Abbas, 22, a Pakistani student awaiting to study in Victoria to pursue a degree in construction management, paid $ 5,800 to first book a flight to Australia on December 1 and then change to December 23.
After two years of what he said was dictated by canceled plans by the state government to return students, as well as evasive statements from the federal government, he became cynical about any positive news about the borders.
He did not tell anyone about his imminent departure, not wanting to answer questions if he could not leave. And he is pretty sure the borders will remain closed and he is wasting his money, he said, but he insists that Australia will open its borders for a week or two after December 15, but then close them again due to flooding. arrivals brings more occasions.
“Let’s say they open on December 15, close in a week, and I booked a flight in January,” he said. “I will wish I had tried my best to travel to Australia.”
Indian student Dhanashri Marj, who is studying at the Queensland University of Technology, has set a deadline for herself: if the borders do not open on December 15, she said she will leave and move to a university in the country. with open borders.
During the pandemic, “I thought, be a little patient.” Wait for Australia, she said. But she reaches the end of her rope.
“Two years have passed. I can’t wait any longer, ”she said.
And now the stories of the week: