Students in lockdown

Strathclyders share their thoughts on how to defeat loneliness and boredom

By Lukas Vojacek

It has been more than a month now since the UK government locked us up in our flats and houses due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. An odd situation that has no parallel in the modern history, brought many students all over the world feelings of hardship and insecurity. A great number of them are naturally worried about how they will cope financially after losing their jobs, the others simply miss having a social contact with their friends and relatives.

While the return to a normal life is still not in sight, I asked some of our Strathclyde classmates how they are dealing with the unprecedented conditions and if they have any advice how to keep yourself away from stress and boredom. Reading about their personal struggles made me realize again, that we are in this “trouble” literally all together, and together we will eventually find a way out.

“The first two weeks were the hardest. I suffered from depression for the last few years and the one thing that keeps me going is being able to get out and talk to people. So, wrapping my head around being totally isolated in a foreign country was a challenge,” says Alexis Anthony, an American student at Strathclyde.

She is among hundreds of university students who had been forced to complete a Master’s degree from their bedroom, which is not an easy task to do. Alexis admits that her ability to stay focused and motivated has been put to the test: “I need facetime with professors and students, I need live lectures and discussions. To me, technology is a complement to in-person learning, not a supplement for it.”

She is of course not the only one who has to go through this difficult time at the moment. “I have not seen my boyfriend since the beginning of March! I also live with someone who is shielding so members of my family are not even going outside to the shops. I am stressed and worried,” shares Bronagh Wylie, another Strathclyde student.

Current social isolation rules are definitely a harsh experience and completely new territory for everyone. However, all of the respondents that I talked to are trying to fight with their fears and engage in number of creative activities which is a good thing to hear.

“I go through periods of intense productivity when I do everything (cleaning, baking, drawing etc.) followed by periods of absolute gloom, when doing a minuscule task requires unimaginable amounts of effort,” says Lukne Vasileviciute, who is originally from Lithuania.

She advices her fellow students in Glasgow not to be hard on themselves, especially if they are stuck in the lack of productivity phase. Lukne further recommends reconnecting with friends that you have not talked to in a while as people now are more willing to schedule video calls as they do not have anywhere else to be.

“Doing online movie watching parties or playing games on the internet all together has been a great distraction for me,” adds the student.

Alexis offers solution of her own: “I freelance for work, so I have taken on more projects to fill up time. Now I work about 30 hours a week, plus school, so I am usually too busy to notice that I am alone.”

To defeat loneliness, she listens to podcasts daily as well and started a personal vlog. “Every day I spend about 10 minutes talking to the camera, just to have something to talk to but also to have a record of what day-to-day lockdown has been like. It’s like a therapy session. I don’t plan on sharing it, ever,” Alexis explains.

Another option could be to do some exercise. “I recently started yoga to keep myself occupied and would definitely recommend it,” says Bronagh.

According to her it is also helpful to try spend less time in your bedroom and rather stay in the other parts of the house or in the garden. And if you do not wish to experiment, you can just simply do activities that make you happy.

“I am only eating things that bring me joy, wearing things that bring me joy, and streaming shows that bring me joy. I have totally used this time to Marie Kondo my life,” concludes Alexis Anthony.

Let’s hope that our students will keep the vigorous attitude towards present inconvenience and we will be able to get back to our campus soon. In the meantime, you can take some inspiration from the students above and try to use the spare time as effective as possible.

Learn a foreign language, watch films and concerts online, go for a run, do some voluntary work or (such as myself ) write an article for Strathclyde Telegraph. And if you are under stress, do not be afraid to ask for a help.

Scottish government recently put in place £5 million package of emergency financial support for university and college students who are struggling to pay their bills as a result of coronavirus outbreak. Our university also offers various kinds of mental and social support. And do not forget the most important factor – the lockdown is only temporary.