My final 72 hours in Australia were nothing short of unusual.
My eyes squinted in the bright afternoon sun as I scanned my surroundings for the Union Building. Earlier that morning I had called the Flinders Clinic in search of an inhaler, since my asthmatic cough was acting up. I was told to meet someone to get seen, but after nearly a month at Flinders, I had managed to get lost on campus again.
I finally spotted a woman with a mask waving at me. I walked over; a bit relieved. As I approached, she took a small step back. I found this peculiar but followed behind as she led me into an office, listening to her quickly explain what was happening. It took me a moment to register what she was saying: I was going to be escorted off-campus by security and placed in quarantine until my COVID-19 test came back.
A million thoughts raced through my head, all circling back to one main question: what had I gotten myself into?
The next few hours passed by in a blur, as I was quickly tested and quietly ushered to a hotel where I would quarantine. Genuine fear shone in the receptionist’s eyes when he saw me enter the hotel. He muttered a brief, “I know who you are” and cautiously placed my hotel keys on the desk separating us.
The following 48 hours in my hotel room felt like an eternity. Luckily, the Flinders Living staff took great care of me. They had delivered a bag of my belongings (carefully packed by my thoughtful roommate, with a pep talk and treasured bag of Swedish Fish) and checked in on me daily. Within minutes of receiving my negative COVID-19 test, a Flinders staff member brought me back to my apartment in the Village.
Shortly after, I traveled back to the United States, as per national and international recommendations. My 6-month adventure in Australia abruptly ended five months early with a unique final memory.
Amidst the COVID-19 scare, the Flinders Living staff took care of me as one of their own. Despite the fear and uncertainty of 1) being isolated due to COVID-19 and 2) going back to my home country shortly after, I felt entirely supported. I consider myself lucky to have spent time at Flinders University and to have experienced the kindness of its people during such challenging times.
Michele LeBlanc, Bachelor of Health Sciences, S1 2020 Exchange student from Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada
Read Michele’s 1st blog post here