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

I think we’re all varying degrees of both.

I’ve been writing up a series of posts with some students’ experiences on how life has been during this global pandemic. Here are a couple more responses.

Student number 6:

What degree are you currently completing?

Doctor of Philosophy.

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

11 months.

What do you work on?

Trying to cure HIV through improving the immune response to kill HIV-infected cells.

What was your life like prior to lab shutdown?

A combination of designing experiments, performing experiments, analysing the data and reviewing the literature (and lots of writing)!

What is life like now, post shutdown?

How are you managing your degree?

Well my kitty is definitely loving seeing more of me and all the extra attention! I am now working from home indefinitely. Bad because it means I can’t perform experiments and generate data to progress the project. Silver lining – it means I have more time to read and to write. And the extra benefit of reducing the transmission risk helps to put it all into perspective.

What is a typical day like?

I’m trying to keep a sense of normality (despite spending all of my days now in the same apartment). I get up same time, get ready (out of pj’s/track pants!), and try to operate the same as if I were in the office. I do find it harder to focus at home because normally home is where I relax, so I’m relying a lot for the moment on the Pomodoro Technique (25 min off, 5 min off) to maintain focus.

What are your biggest concerns in a time like this?

My biggest concerns right now aren’t for my degree or data. The University, the Department and supervisors are being incredibly supportive and understanding that these delays will prevent generating new data (in my experience). My biggest concern is the safety and health of my family and friends. My partner is a doctor. My parents are both immunocompromised. Right now, they, and people in similar situations are the priority, so I’m okay with working from home right now. They’re worth it!

How are you managing your mental/physical health?

Facetime and Zoom catch ups really are fantastic! In addition, a few of us have a fitness group where a couple of times a week we link up through Facetime and do an hour of exercise at home. Apart from that, I’m trying to maintain eating well (and keeping a safe distance from the fridge at home!), trying to maintain regular sleeping habits, and keeping a schedule.

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

Brunch. Brunch. Brunch. I am all for getting out there and supporting local businesses once things return to normal. Also catching up with friends in person. Board games nights, Friday night after-work drinks, coffee breaks to House of Cards. All the things that help keep you grounded during a PhD. I cannot wait!

Student number 7:

What degree are you currently completing?

PhD

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

4 years 2 months!

What do you work on?

I investigate how the immune system interacts with nerves.

What was your life like prior to lab shutdown?

I was already in my writing phase so was doing a lot of inside work anyway. I did have some casual work in an office and the gym which was a good break.

What is life like now, post shutdown?

How are you managing your degree?

Most of my work now is tidying up my thesis and organising my data from the past 4 years. Everything is a bit of a mess from having no set routine but very slowly chipping away at the work which I think is better than wallowing at not being at 100% efficiency.

What is a typical day like?

Wake up with some Animal Crossing, lunch, trawl through data a bit, exercise, cook, and finishing the day with more Animal Crossing (seriously why am I feeling more reward completing tasks in a virtual island).

What are your biggest concerns in a time like this?

I’m privileged to be well supported, both mentally and financially, but my heart goes out to people who are not in the same spot. I am a little worried about job prospects from this but it’s not something I can control so why stress over it now.

How are you managing your mental/physical health?

I’ve started doing more voice calls – used to find them annoying but it’s nice having people to chat with. Even if you are just sitting around doing your own thing. Home workouts also real good to get blood going again (LesMills on Demand is relatively cheap with a free trial start).

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

BRUNCH! and gym. Brunch lines will be so long though 😦

Any other comments?

It’s important to not feel like you have to be super productive in these current times. There’s a quote going around saying “If you don’t come out of this with some sort of skill/side hustle, you don’t lack time, you lack discipline” which works for some people but overall you should not be expected to have “maximum efficiency”. If you need to spend the day doing nothing to cope, then do it. Don’t let other people shame you into thinking you’re not doing enough. Times are tough already and we don’t need extra guilt piled up on you. As long as you are happy with what you are doing you’re off to a good start.

Also don’t forget to check in with your friends (even the low-maintenance ones) and reach out if you need it. No shame at all.

***

I feel like we’re just playing into stereotypes with all these brunch posts (not to say brunch isn’t awesome). #Melbourne

Once again, if you would like to participate in these posts, feel free to let me know, and I can send you the link to the questionnaire form.

Hope everyone has a good break over Easter. It can be lonesome and depressing at times, but I hope I can bring some level of entertainment and distractions with my Blog. Take care everyone.

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. 👀 🦠 🧫 🧬

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