Pandemic Isolation Unites Students

By Bria Foster

How are you feeling? Is everything okay? Are you doing well? Are you overwhelmed? These are just a few of the frequently asked questions I hear.  

Virtual learning can be challenging when you are used to a strong sense of community like the one at NDMU. However, when adding the mental and physical stressors of a global pandemic, it can seem completely isolating. Students who have struggled with homesickness as first-year students are now experiencing something comparable to the opposite of homesickness. This feeling of “outside-sickness,” or missing everything and everyone outside the walls of your home, which can weigh on us mentally. I have heard students living with anxiety and depression confess that they are struggling now more than ever. The academic workload has seemed to increase for many at the same time that their motivation has reached its lowest. Considering everything we have lived through these past nine months, the question still stands – How are you feeling? Really?

Covid-19 is a global pandemic, and the effects it has on students around the world is sadly similar: stress, loss of motivation, decrease in mental, financial, and emotional health, and a yearning for normalcy. The word for this in Spanish “zozobra,” or a sinking and anxious feeling. These heavy emotions span across cultures and countries, and after interviewing American and Peruivan students, there seem to be three major groups of during the pandemic.

Those who have access to internet that function well:

During virtual learning some things may be taken for granted. Having access to the internet is a luxury that not all obtain. Additionally, with libraries being closed, public internet is not reliable either. This can be stressful for a student trying to attend class. A similar problem is the responsibility to create a safe and quiet environment that promotes learning. Knowing that the home situation of every student is not similar and trying to maintain standards for a virtual learning classroom can be difficult for professors and students alike.

Those in classes or labs that require in person meetings:

For NDMU this includes nursing and pharmacy students among others doing research or in a class that cannot be taught virtually. In Peru, these students must get tested for Covid-19 every two weeks and use their negative result as an entrance pass into class.

At NDMU students living on campus or doing in-person meetings may be randomly chosen for testing. However, the financial and mental cost of constantly being screened can be straining especially if it is not covered by the school. In these cases, some students are forced to take an indefinite break from school for Covid-related financial reasons. This becomes yet another burden for students to maintain outside of the regular academic obstacles.

Those without internet, computers, or other virtual learning necessities:

The struggle of being in pursuit of your degree to better your financial possibilities and being held back by the internet or a computer can be very frustrating. Some schools have been proactive about this learning difficulty before Covid by offering chrome books or laptops for academic use. However, this is not a universal standard yet. Some students are still in situations that prevent them from learning but must find ways to preserve.

Considering everything, this has been a very eventful year. Remind yourself of the constant changes and adjustments as you analyze how well you are performing. Do not minimize the strength it takes to continue through difficult circumstances. Remember that you are not alone in this and stop to check in with yourself. See how you’re feeling, and know it’s okay not to be okay.

Despite the difficulties that accompany the world-wide pandemic, unique challenges unite students on campus and world-wide. With three main categories of students, learners persevere together while being socially distant.

Photo Courtesy of PhotosForClass

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