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Jade Matthews explains what it feels like starting university under COVID-19 lockdown

Jade Matthews Source: Supplied

“We were talking about going to uni, meeting all the new people and doing all the activities. But hat has kind of been put on hold with all the lockdown thing happening; everything is online.” - Jade Matthews

Jade Matthews is studying a dual Degree in Nursing & Psychology at the QUT in Brisbane. She is one of the first cohorts to start university while the entire country is in lockdown. 

Her initial career choice was to be a teacher as she studied RATEP (Community based Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Teacher Education Program) during her senior studies at Maryborough SHS.


In a yarn with NITV Radio, Jade explained how her decision to enrol in nursing and psychology came about. “Towards the end of year 12, I was working part time in a chemist and I just really loved caring for people and found a lot of satisfaction just like in being able to provide care and being able to help people around me.” 

“I just felt that I wanted to get more involved; and I thought nursing would be perfect. It’s something that I can really give back to people around me and provide a lot of care.” 

Jade finished high school with excellent results and was one of only three students from the Girls Academy network to receive a scholarship to ease the financial burden during her tertiary studies. 

Her first year at university started smoothly then the COVID-19 pandemic spread its tentacles on our shores sending all activities including academia in the cyber space. 

Though the change caught everyone by surprise, Jade says that the adaptation was close to seamless. “Moving to studying online has been pretty good, the university has been very supportive, making sure that we are getting the information we need.” 

We are definitely still in contact with friends, especially organising Zoom birthdays.

“It is a bit different but it is good. We are still able to get the same learning and resources that we would have been able to access if we were still doing it from the actual university.” 

However, Jade admits, there have been occasional glitches like the audio cutting out mid-course because of poor WIFI connectivity but there haven't been any major issues. 

Jade concedes that occasionally she missed a few courses as she was adapting to the discipline of distance-learning. “I missed a few classes here and there because it was difficult to access certain things online but once we figured out the issues, we were able to adapt to it.” 

Jade also confided that navigating self-isolation was tricky. But, it all boiled down to structure. “Organising your day, when to have uni and allocating study time to ensure you have everything you need, organising yourself so you don’t grind yourself to the ground.”

During the first few weeks into the academic year, when studies were still being delivered on campus, Jade met new people and made some friends then every thing moved online and she was only able to maintain contact through the internet.

Jade say that she met new people and established rapport with them through her online studies and conferences. But, she admits that It will be very weird when, one day, they all get to meet in person after the crisis.

Jade lives independently in her hometown of Maryborough and  keeps contact with her former schoolmates and all her friends but, all their social interactions are virtual. “We are definitely still in contact, especially organising Zoom birthdays and things like that.” 

With self-isolation and the lockdown, Jade cherishes regular family visits; a source of welcome support. She says that what she misses the most is not being able to do all the activities that she's heard about prior to her tertiary studies like sports and the social events that are normally part of university life.

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