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!
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.
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!).
Tips to enjoy the lockdown
Ever since the World Health Organisation’s classification of COVID-19 as a pandemic, a new face of the world was unveiled to us. A world where countries are progressively shutting down borders and locking down. A world where supermarket pasta and toilet roll aisles are ravaged and international capital cities turning into ghost towns. A world that I took for granted.
Taking a step back from this exceptional sanitation crisis and with the social distancing, I realised how elements of what seemed part of a natural lifestyle were in fact blessed treasures: walking in to university daily, picnicking in Hyde Park with some friends, attending workshops, conferences, art exhibitions, socials and the list goes on!