Students share isolation experiences

Lyna Mohamad

Sheikh Muhammad Syazwan bin Sheikh Redzuan, a second year student in petroleum engineering at UCSI University in Kuala Lumpur recently completed his isolation at Parkview Hotel.

The 22-year-old said while his overall experience was good, he admitted to how challenging it was to take an online examination when the Internet connection was unstable.

However, he added, the ordeal had taught him to exercise patience.

He extended his gratitude towards staff at the Brunei High Commission in Kuala Lumpur, Royal Brunei Airlines (RB) crew, Parkview Hotel staff, medical frontliners and volunteers for “their efforts in trying to flatten the curve in Brunei and keeping everyone safe”.

Meanwhile, Zunnuraina Raihana binti Mohamad Ramlee, a first year undergraduate at UPM in Selangor decided to return to Brunei when her university announced that all classes for the rest of the semester would be moved online.

ABOVE & BELOW: Twenty-year-old Muaz bin Ibrahim, who studies in India, said he enjoyed his two-week isolation; and Mas Farhah Aliah binti Haji Mohamad, a physiotherapy undergraduate in Malaysia, was able to work through the boredom and focus on her studies while maintaining physical fitness during the isolation. PHOTOS: RAHWANI ZAHARI

ABOVE & BELOW: Students Zunnuraina Raihana binti Mohamad Ramlee, Muhammad Zaimirul bin Haji Zaini and Sheikh Muhammad Syazwan bin Sheikh Redzuan checking out of a hotel upon completion of the 14-day isolation mandate

She said her decision was due to the extension of the movement control order and the worsening COVID-19 crisis in Malaysia.

Zunnuraina Raihana did not face any struggles completing the two-week isolation as the hotel provided her with three meals a day as well as allowed her family and friends to drop off food and other essentials for her.

“At first, it seemed a bit overwhelming to be alone for another 14 days, after we had just gone through the stay-at-home mandate in Malaysia,” she said. “However, we knew how important it was to prevent COVID-19 from spreading to the community, in case that we were unknowingly carrying the coronavirus.”

She added, “Despite having little physical contact with people, we had means to socialise online. So we weren’t completely alone.”

On her return to the country, she said she did not encounter any problems in hopping on the chartered flight as like the rest of the students, she was issued an official letter from the Brunei High Commission in Kuala Lumpur.

Upon landing at the Brunei International Airport, they were immediately split into different groups, managed by officers from the Ministry of Education (MoE), Royal Brunei Police Force and Royal Brunei Armed Forces.

“We are grateful to His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam’s Government as well as all parties involved for bringing Bruneian students home during this global pandemic and taking care of us while safeguarding the country,” she said.

Despite the exhaustion from travelling, she believed that their journey would not have been smooth-running had it not been the tireless work by the authorities.

Muhammad Zaimirul bin Haji Zaini, who was about to enter his third year of a tourism management undergraduate course at Asia Pacific University in Bukit Jalil, also thanked the government for the containment efforts.

“I want to thank the Brunei Government for providing us with the accommodation and the volunteers and frontliners for taking care of us students,” he said.

With isolation at StarLodge, he said he spent the two-week mandate playing video games, watching TV and reading.

Meanwhile, Mas Farhah Aliah binti Haji Mohamad, who is currently an undergraduate in physiotherapy in Malaysia, said the initial few days of isolation was challenging but she was able to work through it and find the concentration needed to focus on her online classes while maintaining physical fitness.

The 21-year-old also expressed her gratitude towards the government, “especially all the frontliners for ensuring our safety and well-being”.

Muaz bin Ibrahim, who is a 22-year-old student in India, said he enjoyed his isolation period.

He said he saw benefits in the rules and regulations set by the authorities, and during the two-week confinement at Parkview Hotel, he went straight to work on honing his skills in time management, keeping his fitness up and watching his food intake.

He extended his appreciation to the Ministry of Health (MoH) for providing the students with facilities for isolation, as well as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, government officials in India and Malaysia and the Malaysian High Commission for their joint efforts in ensuring that stranded Bruneian students were able to return home safely.