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.
1. Friends – Highlights of my time at Imperial so far include meeting like-minded students from around the world and different cultures. Imperial is a true melting pot and with the current situation we are all back home, separated by mountains and seas. With friends from England, China, Australia, France, USA, Taiwan, I have realised how challenging it can be to catch up owing to all the different time zones. Luckily we have technology to rescue us # teams and zoom. For all those who have continuously supported me, thank you. I look forward to seeing you all in 3D soon!
Celebrating Kindness for Mental Health Awareness Week 2020
Kindness comes in many shapes and forms: saying thank you to a key worker, giving someone a slice of your freshly baked banana bread, or even just encouraging your friends. But as life goes on, and we hold the door open again and again or help an elderly neighbour with running errands, we can often forget to be kind to one particular person: ourselves.
With exams, a pandemic and the daily stresses of life, we can get so caught up in being the best person for everyone else. We try being supportive to all of our friends, family and those around us but sometimes we forget about what’s best for us.
Now that I’m back to my little town on the Island of Borneo in Malaysia, how does my workflow look like as I prep for remote exams? Absolutely no one asked me this question but I just felt like writing this so, you’re welcome!
10 am: Rise and Shine!
Those who know me will find this shocking as I usually wake up around 6.30 am every day. The only reason why I wake up this late is that I now have to go to bed at 3 am. The only reason? To accommodate for exam schedules as they are set based on BST.
Taking charge of your own mental health support.
We have been in a state of nationwide lock-down for a few weeks now. This has understandably taken a toll on everyone’s mental health. Some may have managed to cope more than others. However, professional and academic commitments still need to be met even during a pandemic. The pressure from keeping up with that alongside the uncertainty of the current situation may lead to heightened anxiety among students. This can manifest in many ways some of which are erratic sleep, loss of appetite, irritability or panic attacks.
With the pressures from the crisis and everything being run remotely, the access to professional mental health support has unfortunately diminished.
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’m sure this is your 100th time hearing, reading or watching anything that has to do with COVID-19 today, but many people have been asking me about the journey was like and was it safe. So, I’ve decided I’m going to write about what I had to go through to finally get back home (it’s a journey that spanned almost an entire month)!
So it first started off sometime mid-March. We finally started to take the whole COVID-19 situation more seriously. The numbers are growing exponentially by the day, all over the world. My parents (in Malaysia) are starting to worry as the numbers in the UK suddenly started growing extremely quickly.
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.
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!).