Charan happy to finally be back at Lincoln

22 March 2022 | News

International student Charan Yuvaraj Sivakumar’s journey back to Lincoln to resume his studies stretched into two years when the borders closed due to COVID-19.

However, it also delivered unexpected benefits.

“In March 2020, I was at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, in line to check in and collect my boarding pass to New Zealand,” Charon said.

He had finished the third year of his Bachelor of Agricultural Science (Honours) degree as a Study Abroad programme student at Wageningen University in the Netherlands. 

The programme allowed him to travel overseas to study but still have his grades credited to his Lincoln degree.

"The flight I had initially booked was cancelled, so I had to book the next earliest flight, which was at 7am the next day."

He reached the airport at 2am to get a ticket for the flight, only to receive a call from New Zealand asking him not to board it as the borders were closing that night.

He couldn’t get back home to India either.

So I ended up staying in the Netherlands, which when I look back was one of the best things that could have happened to me.

"After getting back from the airport to my room, it took me some time to come to peace with what had happened.”

With no other option he headed back to Wageningen University for another semester.

“With a bit of support from my family and Annie Goh (Lincoln University International Manager), I took whatever was going to happen as an adventure, and it was.

 “I started enjoying my stay. I made a bunch of amazing friends whom I can surely call family, joined the uni football team and the uni squash club.

 “The classes were semi-online which made it easier to make friends and I really enjoyed them. Even though there were a lot of restrictions due to COVID I managed to go to a few cities in the Netherlands as part of some courses, as well as with a bunch of friends and alone,” Charan said.

He was able to meet and interact with local farmers through his studies, “which helped me understand their farming ways, and their perspective on agriculture and policies around it.”

“Embracing my situation and the journey is what I feel got me through the whole year. It’s easy to say I learnt a lot, but I did. The various classes and talking to a lot of people at the university helped me kind of get an insight on what I might want to do academically and career wise.”

He had grown to like the Netherlands, and did not look forward to going back to India.

“But, a few days in I felt at home again. I had all my friends and relatives visit me once I arrived. I feel blessed to have spent the last few days with my grandmother, who passed away due to COVID, and to be there for my family.

“I would call 2021 the family year for me. I am very happy and glad I got to do that.”

He also worked at an NGO and met a lot of new people.

At the same time he was waking up early (3am), to try and get an MIQ spot as part of the border exception for international students who had been previously studying in New Zealand, and resume his degree at Lincoln.

“I finally got a spot  on 18 January. I booked a ticket to Dubai, as India was a high risk country and I had to stay in another country for 14 days before I flew to New Zealand.”

He stayed with family and had a chance to explore Dubai “which was an experience in itself” though he avoided crowds to ensure he could still make the trip back.

Then came MIQ.

“My 10 days in quarantine, I watched a lot of Netflix, read two books, started an online course, exercised, slept a lot and spoke to family and some friends’

After two years, he is happy to be back at Lincoln, and is looking forward to completing his studies.

"It is just so good to be here again."