Exchange: Homecoming challenge

I cannot believe that it is November already and in around two months’ time my partner Paul and I will be (hopefully) flying back home from Calgary, Canada to Australia. I say ‘hopefully’ because at this stage we do not have flights booked to come home.

Hawaiian Airlines have cancelled our original booking and we were lucky to have received a refund. We are now in the process of booking new flights to return in January. There are currently several challenges with the task of booking a flight home, due to the Australian government enforcing caps on the number of Australians allowed to return from overseas.

This global pandemic has affected us all in some way and Aussies overseas do not know if we will be able to board our booked flights or even if we will get refunds if our flights are cancelled. Currently, my partner and I can book flights with one of the few airlines still flying to Australia, but the cost is at least three times the regular price. Unfortunately, we are not guaranteed flight confirmation with any of these airlines.

At this stage, we will also need to quarantine for two weeks in a designated hotel upon arrival to Sydney. I am lucky that I will still have a job and paid leave consideration if I cannot get back to Australia or finish quarantine by the end of January.

The added stress of finding a flight home is considerable for all of us on a teacher exchange here in Canada. My year here has been an incredible experience despite the pandemic but please send some prayers our way that we can return to our country and to our families soon.

Nicole Lenihan, St Michael’s Primary School, Nowra