JOSIE Saunders flew the family nest for the coastal city life earlier this year, to start university and a new chapter.
But three weeks into classes, she had packed up and was driving back home to Quirindi.
Like so many of her peers, Josie's studies were forced online during the COVID-19 crisis. And like so many uni students across the country, she moved back home to her family in the country when in-person classes were cut off.
Josie is now halfway through her first year of studying a double degree in law and social science at the University of Newcastle.
"I submitted my last assignment for this semester [on Friday] and that was just a huge relief, I did a big dance after I finished, it is a substantial workload," she said.
"It kept me so busy during coronavirus because everyone was going stir crazy, but I was still there swimming in all my readings and lectures."
Just as Josie was settling into her new lifestyle, she noticed things change rapidly.
"I'd just moved out of home and it was so exciting, I thought this was the start of a new journey and I was just easing into it and all of a sudden it was like 'no, you can't come to class anymore' and everyone's moving back home and I was like, this is crazy," she said.
Although she admits online learning has been harder than face-to-face classes, Josie has drawn on skills learnt at Quirindi High to pull through her first semester.
"When I was in Year 12, what I found helped me so much was the independence of being in the senior school, being organised, making sure you have a schedule and you have to keep yourself motivated," she said.
And other tools have come in handy too.
"It's been great with social media, I've been able to connect with a lot of the people I met in my first few weeks of classes but I would really like to make some more connections the second time around," she said.
"I had to do a group assignment and we had to do it on a Zoom call, and we just had to be understanding of people - like some people had bad internet connections and they'd be cutting out but we were all there for eachother."
The yo-yo year she's had thus far hasn't stopped her yearning to get back to Newcastle. Josie said she's excited for the uni atmosphere and the experiences that just can't be replicated on a screen.
"I am so excited to go back because in law, in first year, you visit the legal centre and you watch a fourth year law student take on a client and ... I literally just missed out," she said.
"I'm hoping that when uni goes back that can happen and I'll get that personal face-to-face interaction with clients."
Josie had a few little pointers for pupils at Quirindi High and beyond who are anxious about taking on exams and making plans in such uncertain times.
"I really take my hat off to this year's Year 12 ... my advice is keep working hard because this time will pass, and what you put in is what you get out despite the circumstances," she said.
Another Quirindi High graduate, Lilly Nicholls, found herself in the same boat.
Lilly had only spent a couple of weeks in the big smoke studying nursing at a university in Canberra, before she moved back home to Spring Ridge and logged in online.