The pandemic has upended how we interacted completely. From how we interact in the office, to a patient consulting with one's doctors, to a teacher to his/her students, even among families and peers. In a time where we are expected to physically distance ourselves from one another, is the same time where we all need to stay socially connected.
It’s normal to feel overwhelmed during these times, especially when physical distancing is necessary for our own safety. Increased feelings of isolation, stress and anxiety are expected (1), even if it’s been a year since COVID 19 was announced as a pandemic.
Being a student studying medicine is hard enough- studying in a pandemic? Well, one would ought to believe it’s nearly impossible without the support of others.
Here are some ways of how our scholars have coped a year of being a student in a pandemic:
Game and Movie Nights
“My cousins and I do game nights as our "catch-up" session whenever we are free. Together with the incoming 2nd year scholars, as seen in the picture below, we would do study group sessions to ease the pressure from major exams. Through these, I realized that staying connected is important because it can reduce stress brought about by the uncertainty of this pandemic. Meanwhile, it can also increase our productivity by finding companionship in doing everyday tasks. We may be physically distant but that doesn't mean we can't be emotionally close!” – Elaine Buenaventura, Incoming 2nd Year
“A lot of us for sure have been longing to see our families and friends, missing the fun of hanging out with them at our favorite resto, or chilling out at our favorite go-to place. Indeed, staying connected with them is a real challenge during these unprecedented times. But thankfully, we have today's technology that gives us ways to reach out to our distant family and friends while being physically apart. I personally use both messenger and zoom to keep in touch with my mom who is currently working abroad and with my friends and blockmates. At times, my friends and I would schedule a movie night using online streaming services like Netflix party or Scener that gives us a vibe of watching together in a cinema but virtual. We also tune in to live-streamed concerts and other online events together.” -Danvel Liwag, Incoming 3rd Year
Reconnecting and Reuniting with Friends and Family
“Last week, my family and I were cleaning our house when I came across the retreat letters given to me by my high school friends. Then I read the letter of one of my best friends in high school and realized that I haven't talked to her in 6 years. I messaged her and after eight hours of catching up, it is as if all those missed years were compressed into one conversation. We reconnected in an instant. It feels nice to know that most of our friends are just one message away. It is only a matter of who takes the first step.
As an extrovert, these times are definitely the hardest, but staying connected with friends is what keeps me sane. We may not be near to each other but I know that I can talk to any of them when I need it, and I think that's the beauty of friendships. It transcends distance between people--to stay close, even when they are far.” –Harvie Barcellano, incoming 3rd year.
“I am fortunate to be living with my maternal grandparents during this pandemic. It has been my home since birth and I only left it briefly when I studied/worked abroad for 3 years. My maternal grandparents have two children - my mother and my uncle. My uncle and his family live in the far south of NCR while we live in the far north area. Indeed, meeting up is a challenge especially that certain lockdowns and protocols are in place. Since the pandemic broke in our country last March 2020, my uncle's family was able to visit us after 6 months. As for my mother, she lives in the eastern part of NCR and is also having difficulties visiting us. Fortunately, my mother and I got scheduled for the first dose of vaccine last 26th of March, 2021. Finally, my mother and I got reunited in the vaccination center and I took her home with me. It's been 11 months since I last saw her and that reunion was very pleasant.” –Nympa Elisa Sia, Incoming 2nd year
Even just our regular catch-ups through calls with friends and family, even simple encouragements like “kaya mo pa yan” or “sandali nalang magiging doctor kana.” means a world of difference. As shared by Remuel Bonifacio, an incoming 2nd year student. “...especially in this pandemic, they are my support system as I am to them, and they are the ones who would keep me back up when I am overwhelmed and stressed not only in studies but also in life.”
Our relationships sustain us during times of uncertainty and difficulty. Whether we’re introverts or extroverts, humans are social beings and this pandemic, made us aware and reflect on our need for connection.
Photos by: Harvie Barcellano, & Elaine Buenaventura