Nicole’s Quarantine Experience: Stories From Australia’s First International Student Charter Flight

This article is sponsored by Charles Darwin University

After completing her master’s degree as an international student in Melbourne, Nicole, originally from Vietnam, knew that she wasn’t finished furthering her education in Australia. So, she decided to pursue her PhD in marketing at Charles Darwin University (CDU). A peaceful country with plenty of opportunity for travel, Australia had everything Nicole was looking for.

“If you want to study and travel at the same time, Australia is the best choice. It has some of the most beautiful landmarks I’ve ever seen,” she says.

When it came to choosing her institution, CDU stood out to her: “I chose CDU specifically because I got great support from my supervisor and from CDU Global as well. They gave [me] an opportunity to enter Australia.” 

The opportunity she’s referencing is CDU’s first-ever charter flight program, which saw 63 students from Mainland China, Hong Kong SAR, Vietnam, Japan and Indonesia arrive in Darwin – the first since COVID-related border restrictions were implemented. 

Upon arrival, Nicole and her fellow international students were required to quarantine for 14 days. Speaking about her experience and the fantastic support services provided by CDU, Nicole offers key insights into the charter flight cohort’s quarantine experience. 

Passing the time in quarantine

For many, the idea of spending two weeks confined to one room sounds tough. For Nicole, though, quarantining at the Howard Springs Quarantine Facility was “a really awesome experience.” 

Each student was accommodated in their own fully furnished room, perfect for rest and relaxation. Plus, the students were allowed to leave their rooms to go swimming and even to go for walks (as long as they wore masks).

Throughout the 14 days, Nicole adds, CDU staff provided unwavering support. From care packages to daily wellness phone calls, CDU was there for the international students every step of the way. If any of them encountered any issues, the welfare staff assisted immediately.

“One of my friends in quarantine felt homesick,” shares Nicole. “So, welfare staff came and saw her. They talked to her, told her how to relieve stress and how to deal with the situation.” 

Quarantine was also an opportunity for students to prepare themselves to study on-campus. According to Nicole, CDU hosted a full two-weeks of online workshops and activities, including yoga classes, academic writing, an introduction to Indigenous culture and creating a standout CV.  

Advice to fellow international students

For students who might need to undergo quarantine, Nicole’s advice is very simple: relax.

“You don’t need to worry. The staff complete a lot of the [coordination] for you. They’ll do their best for you,” she says. “All you need to do is follow their instructions.” 

She shares that she could tell CDU’s main motivation for all international students on the flight was making them “as secure as possible.” 

Nicole acknowledges that she was lucky to join the flight, that most international students are still waiting for borders to reopen and are currently studying for their Australian qualifications online. Nicole’s advice to these students is equally simple and effective: be prepared.

“Be ready. Be prepared. Check the charter flights and go straight away [when one becomes available,]” she says. 

Make sure all of your documents (such as your visa and passport) are in order, and try your best to remain in good spirits, she adds. Above all else, don’t be afraid to take action and seize your educational opportunities when they arise. 

“Come here to enjoy the peaceful life [Australia has to offer] and study on- campus.” 

CDU supports all international students throughout their CDU journey, on-campus and online. Learn more about studying with CDU.