Kayi Ntinda1 and Nomazulu Ngozwana2, 1Department of Education Foundations and Management, Eswatini, 2Department of Adult Education, Kwaluseni, Eswatini
The Coronavirus pandemic 2019 (COVID-19) is hastily spreading, bringing pressure and challenges to international students in higher education institutions who were locked down on campus during the COVID-19 outbreak. We sought to explore psychological experiences of international higher education students during the COVID-19 pandemic in Eswatini. A qualitative phenomenological approach was adopted. Participants were 15 conveniently selected international higher education students who were locked down on Campus from March 20 to September 25, 2020. The interviews were conducted face to face. Data were thematically analysed. The study was informed by the ecological systems theory. The psychological experiences of international higher education students during COVID-19 pandemic were categorized in to four themes. Frist negative emotions present in early stages involving discomfort, anxiety and helplessness caused by isolation, fear and concern for safety. Second self-coping strategies included psychological and life adjustments, social distancing, acceptance of wearing of masks, hand sanitizing and online learning. Third we reported growth under the crisis which included affection for family members, peers and self-reflection. Finally, we reported that positive emotions occurred concurrently with negative emotions. During the COVID-19 crisis positive and negative emotions of international higher education students intertwined and co-occurred. Self-coping strategies and psychological growth played a crucial role in maintaining mental health of the students. The international students in higher education were resilient in coping with the COVID-19 crisis and lockdown situation which enhanced their participation in online learning.
International higher education students, psychological experiences, COVID-19, Eswatini.