New Realities: Reflecting on COVID-19 and Medical School.

The past two weeks found me in Kazan for the RANEPA International Summer Campus 2021 themed: ‘New Realities of Human and Personal Interaction’. Coming back to my home city, Rostov-on-Don, I can’t help but reflect on the realities of life as a medical student here for over a year now.

Since March 2020, at the very beginning of my second semester in first year, my university decided to continue all forms of teaching online so we all had to adjust one way or the other.

Fast forward to June 2021, as I ended my second preclinical year in medical school still online, there is still no hope of resuming physically. One can’t help but ask the question, “Am I even learning effectively?”

As with life, the only reasonable resort is adaptation. But truthfully, that hasn’t gone so well especially in the past year. My second year was full of mixed feelings: days pumped full of motivation followed by weeks I’m hardly getting by.

When you are in online school, there is little or no external pressure. If you are going to learn anything at all, you will have to artificially create that extra push. I had to start reading my previous blog posts or else I’d lose focus myself.

For example, one blog post, ‘How I’m studying during quarantine‘, reminds me that it’s okay to feel tired and unproductive sometimes; that online school is hard. Here is an excerpt:

“During quarantine, it can be tempting to start a competition of productivity with yourself. What I’ve learnt, however, is to not force myself to be organised.

As controversial as that may sound, I have decided that my physical and mental health will always matter more than the feeling of productivity.

And so, I try to focus on hitting only the most important and realistic goals per day. This also means not spending too much time planning and organising that I’m eventually too exhausted to study.”

Then there is “TENDA”- as named by my roommates and I. ‘She’ is the internet WiFi router in my hostel room that has decided to make Google Meet frustrating and unbearable for us. When the teacher is about to explain what is most important, TENDA decides to prove her worth.

Time management would have been a third problem of online classes but because second year was quite free, the only problem now will be adjusting for 3rd year where most of the courses are demanding.

Because of the unsolicited free time, however, I had the luxury of exploring a few skills. I learnt to play basic violin, brushed up on my French on Duolingo, learnt a whole lot (and still learning) about copywriting, graphic design and building a website from scratch without coding.

Suffice to say, regardless of the pandemic, I travelled this year than ever before, met more people than ever, understood myself more and became deeper established in my Christian faith. At least, COVID-19 came with a lot of positives.

I also started my blog, got closer to my friends and family, invested in personal development and got to observe life, work, school, productivity, health, self-care and social media from a clearer perspective.

I’m still bothered about continuing school online, especially knowing that most other schools have fully resumed. However, I’m hopeful;

hopeful that I’ll put in the work when it’s required,

hopeful that I’ll be sincere with myself at every point,

hopeful that I’ll ask for help when necessary,

hopeful that I’ll find the discipline to learn effectively,

hopeful that we will go back soon.

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