Canadian medical student shares his Australian quarantine experience

7 January 2021

Here, a Canadian medical student shares his Australian quarantine experience with us—so you know what to expect!

brain chaos drawing
It’s normal to feel overwhelmed during quarantine!

If you’re considering applying to an Australian university, or have accepted an offer for a program starting this year, then you may have heard about the 14-day traveller quarantine you’ll be required to undertake upon arrival (should you receive an exemption to move to Australia from the government).

What is it really like? Do you have options in how or where you end up? Is there any advice from people who have already gone through it?

One Australian resident, Brett East, was kind enough to document his experience with the Australian quarantine process. Now, here’s medical student Ahmed’s point of view!

Flying to Australia
Yes, I finally made it after an extremely long flight!

I flew with Singapore airlines via LA, and they’ve been great. I would advise to keep an open mind with changes given the difficulties to fly to Australia (for example, they changed my 2-hour layover to 40 hours in Singapore airport, and I accepted it and got placed in a transit hotel).

Lots of Aussies are getting bumped off flights with Qatar/British airways, so right now it seems like Singapore and Air New Zealand are the best bets. Some folks have recommended travel agents (some in Canada), but I directly booked with the airline.

Another suggestion is try to get a flight direct to the main city that you would be studying in, rather than going to Brisbane via Sydney for example. With cluster outbreaks happening in various parts of Australia (currently northern Sydney), state governments can implement border closures and force out of state travellers into further quarantine upon arrival. So, it’s best to travel to the state in which one would be studying so as to only undergo the 14-day international traveler quarantine.

Hotel Quarantine
As for quarantine, the general consensus (I’m on a Facebook quarantine group) is that it’s the luck of the draw. We were assigned to a quarantine facility and from the airport, they put us onto buses to the hotel. Travellers have no say in the matter where they go. Most hotel rooms used as a quarantine facility don’t have a balcony, but I’m grateful that I was lucky and was sent to one in the Gold Coast with a balcony. In Queensland, air breaks are no longer permitted, so having a balcony is like sitting on a treasure chest.

The quarantine is 14 days during which one cannot step out of their room. We get three scheduled meals from a set menu for the day (quality varies from one hotel to another) where someone knocks on the door, but there is zero human interaction. There is flexibility for food, so one can make the hotel aware of dietary restrictions and they accommodate for that. So far, my food has been alright. We can also order Uber Eats and reception sends it to the room. I ordered some groceries from Woolworths as well. Most rooms do not have microwaves.

We are tested for COVID twice in our room, once at the beginning that’s voluntary (day 2 to 4) and one mandatory test to leave quarantine at the end (day 10 to 12). There is usually a daily check-in call from health authority or Red Cross for mental health support. A key thing, of course, is to find a routine and occupy the day. I’m lucky to continue working remotely so between that, exercise, and some Netflix and drawing, my day is full.

One last thing to mention, there are two types of quarantine hotels: a police-regulated hotel (the one I’m in) or a health-regulated hotel. My understanding is that most folks are sent to a police one, unless they stated in the Australia health travel declaration (similar to Canada ArriveCAN service) that they have health conditions that require nurse or doctor visitations, or potentially have COVID symptoms. Also, families can put in a request for apartments with a kitchen. Note there are exceptions that can be granted, albeit extremely unlikely, to undergo self-isolation at home, but I’ve only heard of one person who got it from thousands of such applications.

After Quarantine
If your final COVID test comes back negative, you’ll be free to go after the 14 days, so be sure to spend part of your quarantine time making an Australian destination bucket list!


For the latest updates about COVID-19 in Australia, see our COVID-19 Updates page.

Are you interested in studying in Australia? Email us at or give us a call at 1-866-698-7355. We’re here to help!


NewsOzTREKKStudent Profile