In considering what has taken place in Italy and the rest of the world, it is likely that the novel pandemic is slowly manifesting its effects on every country within Planet Earth. At the same time, we have seen governments shutting down to curb the spread of this frightening pandemic. Desperate parties are frantically seeking ways to support companies and consumers by guaranteeing billions of pounds in preventing them from shutting down. Nobody can be sure when the disease will be halted or whether these measures will work. Troubling findings have indicated that the pandemic in the UK will only reach its peak in May; as such, we students are unprepared for our future that seems bleak at present. The world is on the tip of an iceberg, as I can say.
In the past few weeks, many unexpected and familiar incidents have happened here. The country was put on lockdown on Monday night. Events like experiencing the entire wave of hoarders marching towards supermarkets, emptying every shelf that I could see in the stores, and witnessing the social turmoil of people scavenging anything they see, are not novel to me. Most people reckon to stockpile as an egocentric act, yet customers do not apprehend the dedication of the staff that worked relentlessly to support the supply chain. Many students had left Southampton too, in pursuit of safety in their homes. It is terrifying to observe everyone in a mess as new updates arise daily.
I am still in my room alongside my flatmates in Wessex Lane Halls, trying to get the grip of what is going on. There is not a single day where I am not concerned about my health, and especially hearing the news of peers who are experiencing virulent symptoms but not yet confirmed. Things are not easy, but I acknowledge that we are all in this together. The bitter truth about this is that I hear unfortunate news that appears every second in the UK. The mass hysteria that has spread to all the students and staff are damaging. Barely a few weeks after we started our second semester, I began to grasp the need to be adaptable under unprecedented circumstances.
One thing I learnt from all this is to be compassionate and understanding to others. No one wants or anticipates this to happen, not even the university. I recalled how accelerated were the plot twists a few weeks ago until today, yet I am trying to pull myself together and support as many people as I can. Last week, I signed up for one of the volunteering groups that were set up through social media across the country to help children that had their education jeopardised because of this. It is one of those times where I feel we should fight hand in hand and offer help to schooling children that do not deserve this.
“Keep me busy”, the words that linger in my mind and on my laptop. I try to adhere to all my usual daily routine, albeit demanding to redo everything completely. Some of you might recognise that I am a gym freak, and home workouts are new to me. There were plenty of guides online, and even the university’s sports centre has offered a multitude of online classes during the weekdays. The support provided by the university and the ability for us to access online resources is unparalleled in times like this. Not all universities give sensible and practical advice in trying times. For that, I am proud to be a student here. My usual routine usually involves hours of reading the press, The Economist, The Financial Times, my dissertation, my job, and also the collection of books I recently bought before the lockdown. Not to forget Netflix and Chill. I am curious to see how long this habit will last.
Throughout this period, there were various changes to which I had to drastically adapt to maintain my sanity. Rather than marinating in worries that I will get the disease, my career outlook, or even figuring what to do next, I instead focus on what I can evaluate and be grateful for. For most of us, we are worried about the outcome of our dissertation, and some might be anxious about the future. These thoughts lead to adverse psychological effects which stress us out. Broadening our viewpoint and recognising that while things are challenging and unpredictable, there are also great things in our daily lives that make a difference. To me, it is more about coping with environmental changes rather than letting the environment affect us. What we can do now is to acknowledge the little things that happen daily to us, be it good or bad. We are all born to be fighters, after all.
Be under no illusions. Although all of us are wishing that our lives will change for the better, we have to understand that the “invisible enemy” as Donald Trump calls it, will be extracting a heavy toll on us, not just the economy. This is the time where none of us should be self-centred, although I still witness people travelling and loitering around parks in the UK. Understandably, most people felt taxing to be tied down, but this is not the time where we should break the rules. The world will change after this, but we will soon realise that we will persevere. After all, Rome was not built in a day.