Greetings from Grenfell my fellow colleagues! Since I last wrote, it was the beginning of the fall semester and online learning came into full swing. Personally, I was excited to start studies online. I imagined all the free time I would have for writing, research, and just for myself because I wouldn’t have to commute!

Fall semester was still a learning curve though, both as a new PhD student and having to switch learning platforms I still felt it was kind of neat to work remotely, hang out with my cats (yes, plural, but only two!) while reading about sustainability science. Winter semester is when I finally felt overwhelmed from the isolation.

I got to take a road trip to St. John’s for a weekend in February – first time travelling outside of the West Coast since the pandemic started. It was so exciting! Unfortunately, it ended up being the weekend of the St. John’s metro outbreak. The fact that the first time I travelled outside my town, the province reverted back to Alert Level 5 felt defeating. Perhaps I should have stayed home, kept on doing what was working for me. This second lock down is affecting me more than last year, as the bit of normalcy I experienced quickly vanished.

I miss the commute. I miss the quaint and beautiful Grenfell campus. Getting back into the world of Brightspace seems like so much effort now.

I wanted to share lessons I’ve learned this year with you all, but this post became about how I’ve been dealing with the pandemic. I know I’m not the only one struggling. As I said at the beginning of the semester, hopefully sharing my experiences and feelings can help us understand that we are not in this alone, despite the isolation. We are all persevering in our own way, doing our best, and that is what counts.

I do have some reminders for everyone:

  • Since the beginning of the winter semester, daytime lasts a little bit longer each day as we approach spring.
  • The Spring Equinox is Saturday, March 20, and every day after, nighttime will become shorter and shorter.
  • Here on the West Coast of the island, we are getting so many sunny days and it makes getting outside and away from the computer that much easier. I hope sunny days are coming soon for everyone as the winter comes to an end!
  • I have made lots of friendships through online learning. We all would have made friends had we been together on campus as usual, but doesn’t this make the friendship that much more special? Despite the circumstances, despite the social distancing, we have still built relationships across space. We are resilient humans.
  • Finally, greenhouse gas emissions have decreased since the start of the pandemic, especially in China. As someone studying sustainability, it is so amazing to think this pandemic can change the way we look at economies and the climate crisis! I wonder what other innovations and opportunities will emerge?

Maybe the last point is more of a reminder to myself as someone studying sustainability, but nonetheless it gives me enthusiasm for the future post-Covid.

What are some things you all think about to keep yourselves hopeful?

To sign off, here is a picture of one of my cats that tries to share the camera with me during class.

Good luck everyone with the rest of the semester!