As a penultimate-year student, the summer of 2020 is my last “official” holiday before graduation. To fully profit from it, I have mapped out an exciting summer plan since the beginning of the year: going on a summer exchange in Canada for a month, getting an internship, and doing a bit of travelling before the term starts in September. However, with great anticipation for what would lie ahead, the world suddenly halted. With news headlines, Twitter trending hashtags, and televised reports covering the deadly coronavirus, things started to go south. In the past few months, many countries shut their borders, universities adopted online teaching, and businesses were forced to close down.
Although many of our plans did not go as expected, I would never consider my summer to be wasted; neither should yours be. It has been two months since the lockdown was announced [as the time of writing] and I have found myself surprisingly productive despite missing a nice cup of decaf cappuccino from my nearby café. From joining online classes, committing to regular sports, or learning a new language, this summer is certainly turning out differently than I had envisioned. Indeed, I find that keeping yourself POST-ed is the key to staying ahead of the situation.
P: Pause to find your inner Peace.
Living alone and far away from home during the pandemic can severely affect students’ mental health. When the nation was put into lockdown in late March, although I attempted to keep myself calm and composed, my stress level was undeniably high. Taking a break from social media and keeping yourself distracted is crucial when you acknowledge that your emotions and mental health are affected by the lockdown. Having a cup of tea and listening to nice jazz music helped me to get through some difficult times at the beginning of the lockdown. I also followed yoga routines on YouTube in order to get myself emotionally balanced.
O: Open to Online Opportunities
As I was informed that my summer internship would be postponed indefinitely, like many fellow students, I was worried about my future career prospects. While businesses were advised to close and thousands of people are currently working from home, many companies have put a stop to their graduate programmes. Undeniably, it is a tough time for students looking for work experience. Yet, there are still many opportunities available online. As one of my mentors in the spirits industry once said, “remember to network in hell”; get yourself exposed on LinkedIn, and connect with professionals for insights and guidance into the industry you want to explore once the pandemic is over. Furthermore, keeping an eye on the University’s career webpage for any vacancies is a brilliant idea in order to seek potential work experiences for this summer. Afterall, work-from-home internships encourage us to be adaptable, a trait that is highly desirable to many employers nowadays.
S: Search for Substitutes
As summer programmes in Canada have been called off due to the spread of coronavirus, I am now unable to follow through with my plan to attend an exchange there – an experience that certainly would have been enriching. However, in order to adapt, I applied for chartered exams and decided to pick up coding. With loads of websites open for free online studies these past couple of months, I highly recommend students to take this opportunity to apply themselves to something new. In addition to leaning to code, while my gym is closed, I have also started running as a part of my routine. Although the pandemic imposes quite a lot of inconveniences in regard to our routine, we can always explore alternative activities that keep us motivated and positive.
T: Time for Timetabling
Under the lockdown, it is easy for us to lose our sense of time. Setting a daily routine helps adjust your biological clock. After my last exam, I managed to set myself a to-do-list every day. From attending online classes to going for a run, a regular schedule can facilitate us in establishing a sense of accomplishment. Developing a habit of organising your daily routine also encourages you to be productive throughout the day. As a MacBook user, I enjoy using the in-built, colour-coded tabs on iCalendar for organising my schedule. Indeed, some of my friends prefer writing down their daily itineraries in their diaries. As long as there is a way to keep yourself organised and busy, you can get through quarantine time quickly!
While coronavirus has disrupted many of our plans, we can always seek ways to bridge the gap between planning and reality by seeking alternatives. With technology being highly accessible to us, perhaps this summer is just a different one.
[Ernest Shiu – he / him – @shiuology]
[Image Credit: Jeffrey Czum]