We asked some of our students, like Jaeng, to share how the Coronavirus and the lockdowns are affecting them personally. Here is her story.
The biggest impact has been on my work. My work at the pizza shop isn’t consistent and it has meant my income is lower. This means I can’t pay my bills like my rent and things, and that I have to find work other places. Usually I work 5-6 days per week, 8-10 hours per day. Now I am working 2 days or sometimes 3 days per week, 3-4 hours per day. There are so few customers, so even my working hours are less.
COVID has made me try to find other work. Usually I work at the pizza shop, and didn’t make me try other things. But this made me try new things and find new strategies to make money. Right now I am selling snacks online, which is my only option. I have to deliver the snacks myself as well.
I also have increased expenses, like for masks, cleaning supplies, or some things have increased in price. For example, I have to cook at home. Cooking at home is more expensive than eating out. [Editor’s note: This is very true in Thailand, especially for individuals rather than large families. In Thailand, it’s easy to find street vendors serving meals very cheaply, but to buy all the ingredients (veggies, meat, sauces, oil and rice) to make a complete Thai meal can quickly add up. The economics for a larger family evens out in the per person cost, but not for a young person on their own.]
It is also harder to study online because we can’t ask questions in person or at the moment. So I have to do a lot more investigating on my own. Our schedule has also changed, and some of my professors are asking us to study at times that are different from usual, and at those times I’m not free. Sometimes when we ask questions or comment they don’t see our comments. Sometimes if we aren’t available when they do a Zoom or Facebook Live for class, that means I miss out on points for my grades. I have to ask my professors to change the time for class, and if they can’t, then I have to go back to work and ask for different hours, and my work has already decreased a lot, so sometimes they can’t change it, and then I have to find someone to replace me at work and I already am missing out on so much money.
I feel pretty bored being on my own. Usually I get up early and go to school, and then I rest in the afternoon and in the evening I go to work. I feel like I use my time really well, but now I can get up whenever I want, and I feel like I don’t have much to do. Sometimes my professors take time off, and sometimes they teach only once in two weeks.
For our exams, in a normal situation, we have someone reminding us “Okay, 10 minutes left.” But when we are taking our exams or tests online, we don’t have anyone reminding us, so if we go over the time we can’t send the test in and we get 0 points. If we have to submit any documents, we have to send them through the mail and pay for that ourselves. For example, for my loan, I have to send my documents in the mail, and if anything is missing or incorrect they will follow up with us, and we have to then resend the documents again, and it gets expensive.
For my family in the village, my parents are older so they don’t really work much. I usually send them around 2,000 THB per month, but once COVID started, I was only able to send them 1,500 THB per month. Last month I was able to send 2,000 because one of my student loan installments came in, so I was able to pay them money out of that.
I don’t have anything much to [add] other than stay home, be careful and take care of yourself.
Many thanks to Jaeng for sharing her perspective with us! To help students like Jaeng through the rest of this year, please donate here! We successfully raised over $12,000 in emergency funds. We’d like to reach $20,000 to help with other needs through 2020.