Menu Home

How has your life changed under COVID-19 (student edition)?

Image

In the midst of our usual WhatsApp group messaging, one of us suggested doing a Q and A of how student life has been impacted by COVID-19.

In my previous post, I mentioned that our lab has effectively been shut down since last Friday. Thus far we’ve been resorting to Zoom to see each others’ faces (in terms of fellow lab members), and it’s been good to have weekly lab morning teas and Friday drinks.

But obviously being cooped up indoors, unable to go in and do experiments in the lab… it’s having quite a negative impact on those of us who needed it to finish our degrees in a timely manner. So, I put the option out there to some fellow students to fill out some questions on what life was like prior, and how it is now under isolation. Obviously intended to be humorous (because we need that during these rather depressing times).

Student number 1:

What degree are you currently completing?

None! I’m free as a birdie!

For context, this particular student has already submitted their Ph. D thesis, and on top of that, they just had their thesis accepted after an examination process.

How many months/years are you (with your degree)?

Complete!

What do you work on?

The bacterial pathogen Coxiella burnetii and their relationship with the host mitochondria (the powerhouse of the cell).

For more context, they’ve looked at Coxiella proteins that are targeted by the bacteria to go to the mitochondria (trying to figure out why it goes there and what it does when it’s at the mitochondria), and also how the host mitochondria changes during bacterial infection (i.e. in response to infection).

What was your life like prior to lab shutdown?

Busy but good! Full of experiments and lab work πŸ™‚ and I had control (mostly) over when/what I did and who I saw.

This particular student was working in the lab after thesis submission, so that they could publish their work in a peer-reviewed journal.

What is life like now, post shutdown?

How are you managing your degree?

See earlier answer (degree is finished).

What is a typical day like?

Go for a run or battle at shops for food, make coffee, do some work, make offerings to the shutdown gods that this ends soon. πŸ™‚

What are your biggest concerns in a time like this?

How long are we going to be like this…?

How are you managing your mental/physical health?

Talk to housemate/lab buddies via Zoom. Keep in touch with friends and family. Go for runs (look, it’s a jog at best) or do some Yoga (infrequent).

What are some some things you are looking forward to doing (post-shutdown)?

Return to normality and lab, begin to plan move to Germany (for Post-Doctoral position/work), go for brunch again.

Any other comments?

I’m worried my housemate is plotting to kill me during the shutdown. πŸ˜›

They really are.

Student number 2:

What degree are you currently completing?

Honours

For our international readers, this particular student is completing their Bachelor degree, but Honours in this instance is an additional year that allows a student to complete some additional coursework and a research project.

How many months/years are you (with your degree)?

Two months (of one year).

What do you work on?

The bacterial pathogen Legionella pneumophila and their relationship with the host mitochondria (the powerhouse of the cell).

What was your life like prior to lab shutdown?

Fulfilling and busy, almost every day was packed with lab work.

What is life like now, post shutdown?

How are you managing your degree?

Trying to do coursework at home, but lack motivation. It is really hard to be efficient at home.

What is a typical day like?

Morning/afternoon workout, eat, watch videos, do some work/reading/playing with Inkscape, calling family/friends, and cleaning.

What are your biggest concerns in a time like this?

Not improving on anything at all, all this year, and the fear of getting even worse. Not being able to finish my degree this year, and thus not being able to have any income next year as previously planned.

How are you managing your mental/physical health?

Annoy my mum by talking to her non-stop. Workout and recently trying out Pilates. Online shopping sometimes, or even eating (which sometimes doesn’t help).

What are some some things you are looking forward to doing (post-shutdown)?

Going back to the lab to finally observe localisation of my proteins. Eating out and shopping with my friends. Going back to be my more disciplined and motivated self. Be able to wear different clothes lol.

Any other comments?

I might spend too much on food if I’m going to be locked in my room all the time. πŸ™‚

Student number 3:

What degree are you currently completing?

Ph. D.

How many months/years are you (with your degree)?

Three.

They’ve just started their fourth year.

What do you work on?

Salmonella

FYI They work on the bacterial pathogen Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium (S. Typhimurium), in particular a Salmonella protein that get injected into the host cell. In addition, they’ve also recently been exploring the function of said Salmonella protein in the context of Coxiella infection (because why not?), because it might impact the way Coxiella recruits certain host cell compartments to itself.

What was your life like prior to lab shutdown?

No time to sit down!!!!! Desk was solely for piles of scrap paper and storage of personal items.

What is life like now, post shutdown?

How are you managing your degree?

Getting a start on thesis writing. Sitting down!!!!!

What is a typical day like?

More sleep than usual, run in pretty Alma Park while playing ‘dodge-that-person’ and ‘admiring-puppers’. SIT DOWN!!! Zoom meetings/online teaching. Reading mountains of Salmonella scientific literature with a side of writing.

What are your biggest concerns in a time like this?

Putting on weight cos I’m SITTING DOWN!!!

How are you managing your mental/physical health?

Keep in touch with friends, family, binge Netflix to assimilate with society, go for runs, eat healthy-ish, enjoy a G & T.

What are some some things you are looking forward to doing (post-shutdown)?

Korean BBQ!!!

Any other comments?

It’s kind of a nice change for me cos I get to SIT DOWN!!!

***

And there you have it. I think the general theme of life post-shutdown seems to be that all of us are trying to keep in touch with friends and family, and finding distractions in the mean time. I’ve been finding it very isolating to not be able to visit loved ones, as I live a decent drive away from family.

Also, you can see the progression of a Uni student here. From Honours (fresh-faced and looking forward to the lab), to third year going on fourth year Ph. D student (‘life is crazy and I’m drowning’), and finally someone who is pretty much on track to become a Doctor of Philosophy.

If you are a student and would like to feature in this thread of posts, let me know! I would be happy to post your responses.

In the mean time, do stay safe, stay home, and take care. It can be lonely sometimes.

Categories: General Ph D posts

Tagged as:

ABugsLife

A former wet-lab based Bacteriology Ph. D student residing in Australia. Now working part time at a secret location as a Communications and Data Officer. πŸ‘€ 🦠 🧫 🧬

1 reply

  1. Well, on the positive side of things I have done a brilliant job of filing all the photographs on my computer. I have made a lot of zucchini and potato soup and a lot of chili con carne. And I’ve got a bit of a vegetable garden going.
    But I do miss having people drop in. So make sure you do when this is all over.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: