The COVID-19 situation has created an unprecedented period of complexity and uncertainty. Fears about the virus can take
an emotional toll, especially for college students, who are suddenly thrust into choppy and uncharted waters.
As college students, we are in a time of massive upheaval. There are so many things outside our control, including how long the pandemic lasts, how other people behave, and what the future holds. That is a tough thing to accept, and so many of us respond by endlessly searching the internet for answers and thinking over all the different scenarios that might happen.
But as long as we are focusing on questions with unknowable answers and circumstances outside of our personal control, this strategy will get us nowhere aside from feeling drained, anxious, and overwhelmed. Universities across the nation have resorted to online teaching methods to ensure that there is no academic loss.
However, many students are not comfortable with the teaching process, while, others face the issue of internet connectivity as an impediment to access online classes. In times like these, it is vital to stay informed about the happenings globally and follow the required precautions. Sensationalistic media coverage and misinformation will only add to fear and uncertainty, so keep a tab on the information that is shared with you. Stick to trusted sources like the World Health Organisation (WHO) to discern information about the pandemic. Do not constantly check for updates on social media, it becomes compulsive at one point of time. Stay away from media altogether, if you feel overwhelmed. With the US President Trump repeatedly referring to coronavirus as ‘Chinese virus’ fuelling theories that the virus was a biological weapon used by China, things have taken an odd turn with people using it as an excuse to attack the natives of Northeast India.
A report by Rights and Risk Analysis group shows that residents of the Northeast part of the nation are facing racism and discrimination ever since the onset of the global pandemic. The report titled, ‘Coronavirus Pandemic : India’s Mongoloid Looking People Face Upsurge of Racism’ cited at least 22 cases of racial discrimination or hate crimes against such people between 7th February and 25th March. These incidents are not very new to the University of Delhi (DU). On 22nd March, an M.Phil student from Manipur was spat on near North Campus and called ‘coronavirus’. A similar incident was reported by two female students of Kirori Mal College (KMC) when they were harassed and called ‘coronavirus’ by a group of six men, who also threw water balloons on them on 3rd March. On a social media group called the ‘Northeast Solidarity Group’, people are sharing their stories of ill-treatment by their neighbours and the society in general. All this clearly exhibits the cruelty and apathy towards the people from Northeastern part of our very own country.
Recently, I attended an online session which talked about ways to manage and control anxiety during the global pandemic. It reflected on the desire of humans to manage and control everything. What I learnt through the session was that grounding yourself in the present situation will help you spin out the negativity and panic. I also know that this is easier said than done.
There are questions, a lot of questions surrounding us right now, some of them like- what about exams? Will they take place online? What about graduation or admission to a master’s degree? However, I firmly believe that spiralling out the what-ifs from our life in a situation like this will help us to feel calmer. Humans are social animals and are hardwired for communication. This is why it is important to stay connected digitally. Social media has emerged as a powerful to communicate with friends and family, in-person meetings have now been substituted for video calls, which more or less acts as boosters for our mental health.
Nevertheless, don’t let the coronavirus dominate your conversation. Remember to take breaks from the stressful situation and talk about work, family, share jokes and laughter. Be kind to yourself, maintain a routine, take out time for the activities you enjoy, exercise, and most importantly, help others. Amid all the stories of people hoarding up the essential supplies and fighting for toilet paper, all of us need to remember, we all are in this together.
I would conclude with a quote circulating in Italy, which says, “We’re standing far apart now so we can embrace each other later.”