Just a few months after arriving in Sydney for a planned two-year stay, university students Maggie Zhang and boyfriend Sunny Gu (pictured below) sat down to make a "pros and cons" list about life in Australia.
Left: Lan Zhang and Elma Song, international students from China, who are both studying for a master's degree at the University of Sydney, travel on a bus as they go shopping. Right: A sign sticks on a wall on campus at The University of Sydney.
Further darkening the prospects for Australian universities, Beijing recently urged students going overseas to think carefully before choosing Australia, citing a spate of racist incidents targeting Asians during the pandemic.
The warning came after Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison in April told foreign students to go back to their home countries if they were unable to make ends meet during the pandemic, adding they weren't entitled to any welfare payments.
Zhang and Gu plan to return to Australia next year for their final semester if face-to-face classes resume.
"Online classes have lost the real meaning of studying abroad," Gu said via WeChat this week from Guangzhou, where he is in two-week quarantine with Zhang before she returns to her hometown of Wuhan.
"I definitely hope everything will be normal in 2021. My family and I are looking forward to coming back for my graduation ceremony."
PHOTO EDITING MARIKA KOCHIASHVILI; TEXT EDITING JANE WARDELL; LAYOUT JULIA DALRYMPLE