2020 has not been the best year, from Australian bush fires, trade wars and then coronavirus pandemic. What started like just another outbreak became bigger than what anyone would have imagined. It was not just another flu, another hoax, it remains a global challenge affecting our lives and every sector of the economy. Who ever imagined facemasks, hand sanitizers, tissue paper, food, hand washing, not touching our faces and not shaking hands or hugging each other would become such a big deal? No, this is not a drill, it is reality…… We are live in 2020.
The pandemic meant borders, schools, offices, places of worship, tourist sites would remain closed and everything would move online; work, academics, businesses, conferences, governance, relationships would all online for this long. People remain stranded in different places across the world and then it is scary because the virus spreads in such a way that some people who are carriers may not even become sick and they can spread it without knowing. Hence, we must stay indoors and contain the spread to flatten the curve.
It was always a luxury and envious to be working from home but now it has become harder having everyone at home (especially people with family members) and then trying to keep up with schedules. You are no longer voluntarily working or studying from home the way you have always imagined; it can be emotionally and physically overwhelming. This also meant as a student, my classes would move online, all my courses. Thankfully, I was done with most of this semester courses and I had just one left but even then, I must say spending so much time online is challenging. Online education is harder than you imagined.
Before I had classes at either SLU Ultuna (the Swedish University of Agriculture on the other side of town) or the Uppsala University’s Geocentrum, group work was done physically and then some bits online. As someone who prefers reading hard copies of documents, books because of the stress reading online was an unhealthy choice for my eyes, it gets even challenging. I must be online for the class as slides will be insufficient for understanding sometimes because there will be things said, questions asked that will be helpful, read course recommended articles online, do group work online, I even have my weekly fellowship with Mosaic church now online…… it is an online challenge. I miss my classmates, every one of them even those at the “hey!” level (because I can’t be close to everyone in a class of over 50 students). We only see ourselves when it is ZOOM time.
Also, Netflix is online (because sometimes, you gotta’ chill with Netflix)
The good thing is that Uppsala University and SLU study schedules are flexible enough to save you from being an online zombie and I have managed it well. There are so many resources online for academics and updates on coronavirus. My lecturers have been of tremendous assistance and reply inquiries so fast. My department, course counselors and even university management have been open about asking for help when you need one. Also, as a scholarship recipient from the Swedish Institute, they look out for their international students, which means you are not alone.
There is no lockdown here in Sweden, so I can go out for some fresh air while taking a walk. Sweden is a country that naturally practices social distancing because it is a culture of people who love their personal space and avoid conflict. You will understand after living in Sweden for some time, that it is nothing personal and nothing sinister or mean (LOL), it is what it is. I don’t even have to try that hard to social distance myself. (Thank You Sweden!)
Being online always is a challenge these days and I know I am not alone. It can be emotionally draining with all the propaganda, conspiracy theories and fake news on major social media platforms but you have the power to switch things on and off when they are not essential to your goal and daily schedule. You can also focus on the positives of being online, follow genuine leads and draw on things that boost your positive energy. As a student of Sustainable Development, I have discovered a lot of good webinars on topics like Degrowth, Political Ecology, Green Energy, Climate Education and other sustainability inclined discourse, articles that has been educative. There are also free and subsidized courses online you can enroll to learn things you have always wanted. Use your data wisely and make the most of the situation.
Coronavirus is not a hoax; it is something serious that has left us all reflecting on life. Being indoors and spending more time online as a student is a challenge but I make the most of my experience and focus on what counts.
Keep washing your hands and take your hygiene seriously. Always remember to stay home if it is not essential to be out there and yes, keep your distance (it is that serious, LOL!). This also means I am always eating since I go out only when it is essential. My next trip to fridge comes after I finish writing this.
The 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Football leagues, NBA, NFL, everything, every place we used to scream and hang out……even the famous Valborg celebrations in Sweden was suspended. We miss life as we have always known but Life is precious and that is all that counts now.
Maximize your online living and Please Stay Safe!