Studying during COVID-19: Reflections and advice from our students. Blog 4, by Rida Haider (BSc Biomedical Sciences)

Studying during COVID-19: Reflections and advice from our students. Blog 4, by Rida Haider (BSc Biomedical Sciences)

COVID-19 Through My Eyes

As a person with a flair for creativity and great thinking skills, I would love to narrate my very precious experience of spending my time studying during a pandemic that gripped us like tentacles grasp an object (Earth). An Indian by birth, an international student by designation, and also an informed yet perturbed mature student who was unable to pave her way home to India, I had to submit my pre-covid fate to the United Kingdom. Talking out about kingdoms, it is almost surreal that the new term that grabbed eyeballs worldwide – corona – means crown. We witnessed how a 120nm in diameter, pleomorphic spherical particle basically ruled and ran our lives since January, just like a crown.

We can accept it or not, but our normal lives came to a standstill causing the cessation of our beautiful plans, effective immediately. I witnessed the events of cultural and festive importance take a backseat, wedding plans being put on hold, and travel plans cancelled until further notice. But, for the first time, all of this didn’t matter, the only entity that mattered was – “life”. For the first time in my 25 years of existence, I witnessed humans actually caring about nothing but their health and lives. We wanted to live and be healthy and behave as normally as possible even when life was not normal.

For me, as a student, having exams were a blessing in disguise. Yes, they weren’t the same sort of traditional examinations, but at least they weren’t scrapped. They gave me a reason to act normally and invest my time and energy into something, and just avoid the fact that every day there were humans just like me and you who were succumbing to the virus.

On the 15th of March, I bade goodbye to many of my newly made friends who were asked to return by their families before the restrictions and bans were imposed by their parent countries. My family felt that it was in my best interest to stay back and focus on exams. It was a herculean task to do so, but you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do. I created a time table to ensure I continued to perform well academically.

The evolution of Zoom made the process of relaying information easier virtually. But at the same time, I did have a lot of spare time on my hands. I began by exploiting some of my latent talents, such as cooking. I must give credit to my flatmates for encouraging me. It was an enriching experience to make pasta from scratch, or to just experiment with various authentic Indian dishes. I took time out to go for long walks and runs, not just grocery runs. I remember one day I got super lucky when I grabbed the last handwash in the Tesco store. Every day felt like a battle, but I knew I was not here to just sit and keep a watch on the number of deaths being displayed by every news channel app. I was meant to do more.

A ray of hope came in the form of an opportunity given to me by the NHS nightingale hospital, where I got a golden chance to volunteer with the clinical staff during COVID-19. Every second day, I went to the hospital and witnessed how medical practioners were trained in various procedures such as ventilation, conducting CPR, and taking care of themselves during this pandemic. I was happy to play a small part in this battle alongside studying and completing my exams.