The students (part 2)

6 April 2020

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How has life changed for La Trobe students since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis?

The rapid spread of COVID-19 and the measures taken to limit its reach have impacted many people’s lives. Upstart will be working on an ongoing interview series looking at the human stories behind the ongoing pandemic. We started with sharing the stories of some members of our upstart team, who, like many journalists around the world, are trying to cover stories from a social distance.

We’ve all asked them the same question: how has life changed for you since the pandemic? And again, we’ve compiled their answers for Part 2 of the series.


Shazma Gaffoor, upstart writer

Thursday 26 March

I went into work yesterday, the day we decide when everyone will be working from home.

I stopped to get coffee where lady barista and I had an awkward exchange of my KeepCup, ensuring our hands didn’t touch. Then almost instinctively, we both sanitised our hands.

The train into work was practically empty with about three to four people to a carriage, which is rare on a Hurstbridge train where getting a seat during peak hours is a bonus.

I got off at Melbourne Central and walked past the food court where all the chairs were atop tables as if they were closed for the night, but it was still morning.

I get into work only to find that we will be working from home by the end of this week and that we had to take ALL our equipment home.

Fast-forward to 5pm where I’m now packing my large borrowed bags to take home my keyboard, laptop, batteries and wires of varying sizes and my three other KeepCups. Of course I chose to wear my high-heeled boots.

I was clearly not prepared for this, sore feet and all.


Phoebe Doyle, upstart writer

Despite paying rent on a flat where I’m not currently staying, life back at home on the farm hasn’t really changed all that dramatically.

I’m lucky I had the option to come home, a place where I can get out of the house if I need and still be totally isolated from other people.

The biggest impact to our community, other than the closure of many small businesses, has been the postponement of the football and netball seasons; a recreation that serves as a social outlet, particularly for farmers, on the weekends.

When the world goes into meltdown, the farmers keep working.


Clodie Veyrac, upstart editor

“Australia will be closing its borders for the next six months,” the government announced.

We’ve all heard the news. For most people, it just means no travelling. For others like me, expats who chose to live a life away from our birth country, it means a lot more. I couldn’t just fly back home, it’s not so simple.

First, there are my studies. After three years and way too many uni fees, I couldn’t just give it all up on my last semester.

Then there is my part-time job as the editor for Rabelais magazine, the apartment lease that I just started, the strict restrictions of my student visa, my friends and the life I’ve built here. So yeah, not so simple.

I am not really worried about catching the virus, it’s the uncertainty of the whole situation that I find overwhelming. How long will it last? When is life going to be normal again? When will I be able to fly back to see my family?


Amaal Mohamud, upstart writer

Every Friday and Saturday for the past month and a half, the bridal party of my sister’s wedding would gather at a relative’s house to practice some traditional dances.

On a Saturday three weeks before the wedding, the COVID-19 cases were still rising but no limitations were being announced. Practice went along as usual.

Little did we know it was to be our last rehearsal.

Shortly after, events with more than 500 people were banned, then the number cut to 100. My sister had 150 guests.

With things turning south quickly, the makeup artists backing out and suggesting cutting down the number of people, our bridal party WhatsApp group was trying to find a solution.

My sister cancelled the wedding. She hasn’t decided whether she wants to postpone it or just not have a wedding party at all.

She’s still getting married but, she never really wanted a reception in the first place. At least she can save her money for a big trip after all this is over.


Tricia Mifsud, upstart writer

Two weeks ago, I was stressed about how to maintain my part-time work, two internships, upstart, along with three other uni subjects, and my sanity.

Today, I have lost all of that.

I complained about how the heck I would juggle everything when deep down I knew I was enjoying every minute of that 24/7 lifestyle.

I now am stuck reading over the articles I actually got to write, debating whether it’s worth delaying my internship, and searching for my sanity.

The extra time could go to seeing friends, going to the gym, seeing the cute animals at the zoo and seeing more sport. Oh, wait. All in which requires money, to be open, or contact of less than 1.5 meters which has all been taken away too.

I will never complain about working ever again.