I guess you probably don’t want to read another article about Coronavirus, death rates, lockdown restrictions or upcoming uncertainty. We all know these are “unprecedented times” and there is not much we can do apart from stay at home and support key workers. So, if you have a spare moment in between home workout videos, jigsaws and looking longingly out of the window, then read on for a few musings from a final-year languages student and how to deal with current travel bans or holiday cancellations.
Be kind to yourself
I want to start by acknowledging the fact that this is a really difficult time for everyone, we are all coping with measures differently and that it is completely natural to feel uncertain. Humans are social beings, so a forced lack of interaction is a new concept. I can sympathise with anxious students, who face doubts regarding exam provisions, graduation uncertainty, financial difficulties, cancelled lectures and university events, a mass exodus of friends returning home, as well as a very sudden and unexpected end to the academic year. We are allowed to be upset about all of this, as we navigate upcoming deadlines and constantly-changing revision timetables. Take time to adapt to a completely new way of life, and try not to exert additional pressures on yourself at the moment. Remember this is not permanent, and take it all a day at a time.
Cancelled travel plans, flight refunds and closed borders are not ideal, especially when you love learning languages, visiting international friends and exploring foreign places. Fear not…there are still ways to keep discovering culture from the comfort of your own home until you can soak up the real deal! You now finally have chance to print all of your year abroad photos or reminisce by making a personalised travel scrapbook, for example. This is a great time to perfect the languages you always wanted to learn, try recipes for new foods and even explore foreign museums and galleries virtually.
Find the positives
With lots of information in the media, it’s easy to miss the good news stories, photos of children’s hand-painted rainbows or videos of people making the best of the situation. Keep looking, because there are lots of positive outcomes from this epidemic. While we all love flying on mini-breaks abroad, the lockdown has given the planet the chance to partially recover from our travel habits, which are often detrimental for the environment. CO2 emissions are falling, plus natural beauty spots and landmarks are benefitting from less overcrowding, for example. Social distancing is also a great opportunity to call friends you haven’t seen in a while, spend quality time with those you live with or join a thriving online community, so that your social life may paradoxically improve!
Although politicians talk of invisible wars and national crises, there is undoubtedly a feeling of solidarity, which I hope will remain as this virus becomes a distant memory. A new form of globalisation has developed, with countries collaborating on a supranational level to combat the further spread of the disease. China and Russia both sent essential medical supplies to Italy, for instance. Closer to home, unity and togetherness are evident in local communities, with thousands of UK citizens signing up as NHS Responder Volunteers and food collection points being created to support the most vulnerable.
Focus on the future
As a self-confessed travel addict, I know that planning a new adventure is a great distraction from daily struggles. Use this bonus free time to plan your next adventure, wherever it may be. Once travel restrictions are lifted, the world is your oyster and you will be ready to breathe in some fresh sea air. Staying at home is also good for student budgets and upcoming travel plans can be an incentive to start saving some money.
So, download Duolingo, scour Skyscanner and begin a brilliant bucket list!