I hope you are all doing well in middle of all of this. It’s crazy how things changed so abruptly!
This blog post is coming from Brazil, as I’m making my way home for the semester.
The truth is, this has not been easy. No matter how much support we have and how many positive things we can think about, we will always have “those days”. Those days when we miss our families and friends, when it’s extremely difficult to get out of bed, when we wish we could time travel, when we freak out about the future and its uncertainties. What if…? What about…? How am I going to…? Ah!!! Mind blowing! It hasn’t been easy, and that’s okay, because the we are all in this together. We, as graduate students, are all in this together. We can have different backgrounds, different life experiences, different stories, different favorites TV shows, and I might hate ketchup and you love it, but right now, we are all the same. And that’s why we are strong, and that’s what we need to keep in our thoughts.
We all have had really bad situations in our lives. Those horrible moments when we couldn’t understand why in the world this was happening to us and why we needed to go through all of that. I believe these moments are essential for us to become who are today. Even if we can’t see the good side of a really bad situation right away (or ever), it exists. The resilience, this ability to keep trying regardless if something is going wrong, is something my graduate studies taught me. And I only learned how to be resilient because I have got it all wrong (or haven’t got it all) too many times. I have always thought that I would never have certain skills, that there was always something that you needed to be born with. Today I believe we can all learn everything; some people just need to invest their time and patience in a certain skill more than others.
In this resilient aspect of things, here we are, having to begin, continue, or even finish our graduate studies in the middle of this crazy pandemic. Virtual conferences, virtual defenses, virtual group meetings… Here’s hoping my Wi-Fi remains stable! Some people are having way more trouble to work from home than others. Too many distractions, too many things happening at once, too many kids deciding to go wild in the middle of that super important meeting. It becomes impossible to focus on anything at all sometimes! But just like everything else, I believe this is a matter of resilience, and maybe by the end of this pandemic we will become the kings and queens of meditation, being able to write our thesis in the middle of a Slipknot concert (by the way, that’s a huge maybe).
Regarding conferences, resources, and events, the COVID-19 did a pretty good job in messing it all up. The good news is that there are a large number of opportunities now that are free and accessible, especially at MUN. Memorial’s Enhanced Development of the Graduate Experience (EDGE) is hosting a series of virtual workshops and events to help us build and develop a broad set of skills. The School of Graduate Studies (SGS) dean, Dr. Aimée Surprenant, is uploading weekly videos on her YouTube channel, where she gives us updates about the COVID-19 situation in NL, shares any news that could impact students or the University, reminds us to take care of our mental health and gives us tips and tricks on how to do that. SGS has curated a list of COVID-19 resources with all the information we might need during this difficult time. SGS is also hosting virtual Town Halls to hear our experiences and know how to support us. Yes, our daily life has changed, and we cannot do exactly what we used to. However, I believe this uncertain moment is also giving us an opportunity to open our minds, get new insights, and embrace different opportunities that we wouldn’t have the time or the possibility to embrace otherwise.
Yes, my dear readers, I just wanted to share some of my thoughts and highlight the importance of our graduate student community and the numerous resources MUN is offering during this difficult time. They are here for us, as we are here for each other. Reach out, interact, engage, be kind (to others and yourself), wash your hands, and do not give up. Let’s keep being resilient, doing what we can (when we can), and we will get there!
Take care and muito obrigada,