For any regular readers of my blogs out there, you may have noticed my slightly long absence from writing. To say that I’d been struggling with ‘writer’s block’ would be a fairly accurate description. For weeks I kept thinking “What do I write about?” and even though I’d start the occasional blog, I could never finish anything and I’d end up ditching them as drafts. I spoke to a friend of mine who’d come across my blog and he said “Why don’t you write about not having anything to write about?” – so that’s exactly what I set out to do.
Pre-coronavirus, I generally enjoyed cooking every night as a way to destress (and save money). Then, during the “spring break” portion of the lockdown when time was at its most unreal and grocery store shelves at their emptiest, I lost interest. Meals during this time tended towards digestive biscuits, large quantities of oatmeal, and raw carrots eaten despondently at my desk. But now that summer term has picked up, I’ve gone back to cooking as a welcome distraction from everything. I find it a bit more of a challenge now that I only buy groceries once a week since I like to make whatever I’m feeling at the time instead of planning meals in advance, but I’m making it work.
The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically changed the way we live in just a few days/weeks. One of the consequences of that is the new exam organisation at Imperial this year. Using my own computer at home, I have already sat two remote open-book exams and I am about to have another six assessments in the next 3 weeks.
In this post, I am not going to comment on fairness of the Imperial’s decision to hold remote examinations. What I would like to do instead is describing what they look like in our department.
I know I’m not the only one for which time since mid-March hasn’t felt quite real. The Easter break passed in a dissociative blur and now it’s apparently summer term? It’s been challenging to get back into the headspace of academic work since I‘m still stuck in the same physical space that I’ve been in for a month. But since deadlines don’t stop even though time isn’t real, I’ve been slowly clawing my lockdown life into something of a routine.Morning
I start most mornings with a run in my local park. Running has never been my preferred form of exercise but being able to get outside and burn off some pent-up energy helps me cope with spending the rest of the day in my room.
My first online open-book exam is in 13 days.
I am desperately trying to revise but to little avail. The exam season panic has fittingly kicked in. You may ask why I need to revise when all my assessments are going to be open-book. I had the same question. We were advised by our faculty that the exams will be testing understanding instead of simple factual recall. Hence, we need to know the material and understand it sufficiently in order to pass. The faculty has kindly arranged an online mock so we can familiarise ourselves with the platform used to deliver the exams.
Animal Crossing, Tiger King, spending time with family…there are no shortage of ways in which people are occupying themselves while waiting out the COVID-19 pandemic. But Netflix gets stale and many other activities are untenable for a student like myself who is far from the comforts of home. So how does a postgrad stuck in a tiny student flat in London pass time while in lockdown?
The lockdown and the uncertainty of the current climate have taken a toll on everyone’s mental health and wellbeing. Some managed to cope impressively well with the situation whereas others might be slightly or seriously struggling. Social media has proven vital to remain in touch with family and friends with whom you don’t live. But, it can be detrimental to one’s ability to cope as it encourages people to compare themselves with others.
If you are managing to remain motivated and productive during these trying times, then this is absolutely commendable regardless of what is motivating you to work. Motivation can take many forms: wanting to self-improve, trying to fill free time and/or trying to escape the current climate.
In the first week of March, my life was pretty much in the “business as usual” mode. Attending lectures, meeting friends, working on group projects, chilling out. Yeah, nothing special.
In the second week, something began to change. The COVID-19 situation was becoming more and more serious. There was a growing pressure on Imperial to start delivering remote classes as soon as possible. People got concerned about upcoming tests and exams in the last week of term. My coronavirus anxiety increased so much that I started dropping classes to stay in my room in Evelyn Gardens instead (normally, I don’t skip lectures at all!).