It is 2020: No one expected the world to shut down at such an unimaginable scale. No student, including myself, foresaw that attending university would mean sitting at home, facing a screen.
My laptop and I are halfway across the world from campus because the pandemic prevented me from returning to Manchester. A month into the semester and I am still not used to watching my lectures at the dining table at home; or interacting with everyone through a small rectangle on zoom for my seminars.
Being at home has its perks and disadvantages – good news is I can stay with my family but the bad news is that the sense of isolation does not go away.
Being so far away from Manchester poses a lot of challenges, and the feeling of isolation is just one of them. My biggest enemy at the moment is the time difference – my home city is eight hours ahead of GMT. That being said, all my real-time seminars are held during the afternoon and evening.
I know I’m one of the few fortunate ones who managed to arrange my timetable with the time difference in mind, so I don’t have to get up in the dead of night to attend a seminar. However, I do understand this might be a struggle for others. As a creative writing student, there are different literary events in Manchester that I need to attend, most of them start at 2:30 am for me.
To say I am barely awake then is an understatement.
Not to mention, with all the classes conducted online, I need to muster all my self-discipline to stick to my schedule so as not to fall behind. With what seems like an endless to-do-list, the temptation of staying in bed all day instead is immense. The stress, however, does not go away.
No matter where I am in the world, the deadlines still hover above my head and the anxiety has become even worse because I am so far away from my peers. I feel alone in this fight. The silver lining is that all my friends are one message away and if I ever need help with my studies, and my lecturers are one email away.
I am sure a lot of us are feeling secluded from the outside world at the moment, while still trying to live as normally as we can. It’s like we’re living inside a bubble, one that won’t burst or let us back into the world we know. A world where we can see our friends and interact with them like we used to. Sadly, we are now living in times where receiving a hug is considered a privilege.
We are all living under a dome of uncertainty and constant stress; the only thing we can do is try our best.
If you need to take a personal day and take care of your mental health, do it. Be patient with yourself – you are still coping, you are still trying, and that is enough.
Don’t hesitate to contact people when you need help and use the University’s and Student Union’s counselling and advice services. When this is all over, give your loved ones the biggest hug and look back with a smile. You survived a pandemic, you’re still here.