Juggling study and parenting as an international student can be challenging but also rewarding, writes Study Melbourne Ambassador Sandesh Pantha.

Words by Sandesh Pantha

I am Sandesh from Nepal. I’m a second-year PhD student at La Trobe University with a son in grade three. I would like to share my experiences of being a student and having a family.

Having a child while being a student, no doubt, adds responsibilities. As a student, I need to focus on my studies to produce quality output. On other hand, as a parent, I have obligations to guide my child in his studies and extracurricular activities. I have additional responsibilities compared to my colleagues, who are single or married but without a child.

Time management is often a challenge if you have children. Most of the time, after waking up, I think of what to prepare for my son’s breakfast rather than planning my own activities for the day. I must be on time to pick him up from school. After returning from school he wants to play, go for a walk or go shopping.

This builds up tremendous pressure to catch up with academic requirements. I have tried to compensate by waking up early in the morning and having a timetable for every activity. I also share his responsibilities with my partner. Both of us work together to take care of his studies and his extracurricular activities. Meanwhile, social distancing and working from home during COVID-19 has increased our responsibilities.

While it can be difficult to manage time for studies with a child, I believe that spending quality time with children is an advantage.

Life with kids as an international student in Melbourne

My parents and relatives in Nepal advised me to leave my son with them so that I could focus on my course. But I decided to bring my family to Australia. I have now realised that it was a good decision to move together.

Having a child provides numerous opportunities. For example, I learned to manage my finances and time for study, personal and family activities. I enrolled myself in swimming lessons because I took my son there.

Having a child while being a student can add responsibilities and financial constraints. My son does not realise how difficult it is for me to meet his demands. But he also helps me to maintain physical activity and he reduces my stress and anxiety. And this ultimately helps my studies.