By Giovanna Pasquariello ǀ
What a strange time we are getting through right now! It almost seems like we are facing a dystopian reality – the kind you only watch in movies: entire countries locked down, empty streets, people not allowed to meet each other. Time froze someway – but life still has to go on. What a paradox!
How should we save drops of ‘normality’ when everything looks so abnormal? I found and still find very difficult to do so. I feel helpless and frustrated, because no – no matter how hard I try to keep my life going as usual as possible – this situation is NOT ‘normal’. However it might seem strange, embracing this awareness helps me somehow: extraordinary times require extraordinary measures. This perspective makes me feel less helpless and more motivated. Motivated to do what? To learn something and to prove myself – as a citizen and as a human being.
This new ‘normality’ is out of our control but today, more than ever, we can make a difference. Pubs and Publications – using its usual point-by-point format – wants to suggest some ways to get through these hard times and to make them a chance to re-think ourselves and the world we live in.
Be kind to yourself (and to others)
Don’t blame yourself if you weren’t able to read that paper or to write that paragraph, if you woke up later than you planned to or went to bed too late. Take your time to adjust to a new routine – try to figure out one: include some workout, comfort food, some grooming moments. Take care of yourself and – done so – take care of your work too.
Also remember that you are not alone. You are part of a community – no matter how social-distanced it might be right now! This means that you can spend virtual time with your friends and share how you feel with others. However, this implies that you should be kind to them too. Make proof of all your sense of respect and responsibility: don’t go out if you don’t feel well and don’t assault grocery stores – other people need supplies too!
Take the chance to learn something new and to go out of your ‘intellectual’ comfort-zone: scientifically, what’s this coronavirus thing? How does it work? In order to defeat your enemies, you should first know them, right? Well, follow up the scientists’ findings about it – and, most importantly, stay away from fake news!
The fast and wide spread of the pandemic made very clear how interconnected the world is. We all benefit from globalization but now we are experiencing its darker side. Why don’t we take a few minutes to try to understand this mechanism? Could all this be avoided? Is there something we could do or could have done? Let’s embrace an active role in this situation: let’s stay at home, let’s read and learn.
Think about this: lockdown and isolation do not mean the same for everyone! If we have a warm place where to be ‘locked in’, a fridge where to store food, a mobile phone through which to keep in touch with our loved ones and if our loved ones are fine, well – if we have all this – we are much luckier than many other people. Some of them are struggling because of their jobs, other are seriously concerned about their relatives’ health, some of them can’t even call a place home! If we are able to, let’s make donations. We can also promise ourselves to just appreciate the small things that might make us a little happier, such as…
Find and share beauty
Beauty can be found everywhere: in a nice movie, in an intriguing book, in a cake freshly baked. Take some time to look for it and – done so – to share it with other who might need it.
Furthermore, you can’t go sightseeing in person but if you have access to Wi-Fi you can virtually visit a museum. Where to find beauty if not among art collections? You can start from here, for example: https://artsandculture.google.com/story/10-top-museums-you-can-explore-right-here-right-now/igKSKBBnEBSGKg.
When it comes down, the world is beautiful and will still be!
N.B. If you are facing mental health issues right now, you are not alone. Most universities offer support, check the website of yours, don’t be ashamed of doing it and stay safe!
Giovanna Pasquariello is Contributions editor for “Pubs and Publications: the PhD experience”. She’s a first year at the University of Edinburgh, studying something old, very old: Greek inscriptions about the Celtic tribes who settled in Anatolia in 3rd BC. Apart from this, she swears she is a fun person.