Anxiety, Exhaustion, and Discipline: A Self-Portrait of Academic Life at Home Coronavirus

Isabela Vanderlei, 20 years, Lagos
Faculty of Philosophy, University of Lisbon – Cultural and Communication Studies

“I literally survive. My parents both worked in tourism, in hospitality, now they’re laid off and I had two options. Freeze my enrollment and return to Lagos or find a job in Lisbon and continue my life there. As a permanent return to Lagos was not an option, I went to Lisbon and found a job that paid my house and tuition fees.

Isabela Vanderlei Theo Gould

As a displaced student, I also had some problems with housing. I was in a house where I didn’t have a contract. During my first detention, when I went to my parents’ house, the landlord agreed that he would only pay half the rent by the time he returned, but later changed his mind. However, I have already changed houses twice. I live in a T1 with my boyfriend and it’s tight. I need clarity, natural light to study and this house doesn’t have one.

To keep myself upright, I have to leave the house, talk, meet new people. Academic life was my social life. The only person I interact with now is my friend, and then I have my cats. I haven’t seen my family in a long time and I don’t know when I’ll see them.

It was a great effort. It is exhausting working from home in a call center from nine to six and studying for college until bedtime. I used to have time to be with friends, to play theater, anything and everything, and now I have to decide: do I clean my house today or do I go to college? So much so that I need another semester before I should finish my studies.

I already had Covid-19, I was gone for a month. Then I became more anxious until I went to the hospital in an emergency. Now I am accompanied by psychologists and psychiatrists and take medication. It is undoubtedly a consequence of the pandemic. I’ve always been a positive person, happy, I never thought it would get worse that way. “

Rita Marreiros, 21 years, Gondomar
University of Porto Medical Faculty – Medicine

Rita Marreiros

“Nobody wants to be known as the doctor trained during the Covid-19 pandemic. We are concerned about the low load on practical lessons compared to previous years. The move to online removes the perception that we are dealing with people and that we are human ourselves. We look like machines plugged into a computer to type. It’s demotivating, destructive.

We had shortened contact hours with patients and the urgency and operating room were cut off to create a model that would reduce the chains of contamination as much as possible. The risks we are taking are the same or less than before the pandemic. Here at Centro Hospitalar Universitário de São João, doctors and nurses have already been vaccinated, and the sixth year students will also be vaccinated, which gives us another relief. If we do everything carefully at the beginning, we will be fine.

In the basic years of medical school, the regime is online, and in the clinical years it is mixed: clinical practice is in the hospital and everything theoretical is online. It will be like this for the whole semester. Last year, in the first detention, I was in front of a screen the whole time, it seemed like I lived through a box and I love photography, I love looking through lenses and boxes! But please not from a computer.

Compared to March, there is no doubt that the faculty and teachers are much better prepared. In the past, some did not even know how to create a so-called zoom, I took lessons from a teacher whom I only saw on the forehead for half a semester. All sought more support material in case a second restriction was required. Unfortunately it happened.

In the Medical School Student Union we have worked to captivate students and let them know what academic life is beyond, but it is very difficult to become aware of the reality of three thousand people. We try to promote entities that can help them and shake hands with them to say we are here when they need it. “

Francisco Rebelo, 22 years old, Massamá
Lisbon Higher Institute of Engineering – Mechanical Engineering

Francisco Rebelo

“My school performance and my grades have increased a lot because I no longer had small distractions with colleagues and long breaks and coffee breaks. When the whole semester is online, I’m calm. The perfect scenario was the end of the pandemic and we made it To combine distance learning with the freedom to do what we want in our free time.

I can watch classes at home and it helps me a lot to record them for review later. In my best personal semester, I did five chairs, and in the last semester that was online, I did nine.

I think some exams have increased in difficulty to compensate for the fact that we conduct them with advice. In my opinion, it’s better for students. The only downside is that we personally got a few extra minutes from the teacher and the computer doesn’t leave any more time.

I am not worried about losing academic life experience because I made the most of my first two years of study. Now I want to finish the course, I focus more on working and making the chairs with good grades. And to make up for the distance, I often talk to my friends on the phone.

I have a defined routine, always wake up between 7 and 8 a.m., work until noon and then again until the end of the afternoon. Being at the computer for longer doesn’t confuse me. At night it’s my time, I can go for a walk because there aren’t that many people on the street.

I think it is very important to have a well-defined study and work plan. For those who can adapt, have discipline, and stick to their schedules, productivity increases significantly. “

Inês Pinto, 21, Guarda
Faculty of Economics, Coimbra University – International Relations

Inês Pinto

“Last semester, I took mixed face-to-face and online courses. There were a lot of technical problems, I don’t think the teachers were prepared for the distance learning. We wasted a lot of time opening zoom, sending links, plugging cameras … The one hour class lasted 25 minutes. In all honesty, it was more confusing than the first delivery in March 2020.

Because of my health problem – a pituitary macroadenoma – I have to be very careful about my time in front of the computer. Taking classes every day, doing tasks, doing research on the Internet … All these hours have become unbearable for me. I couldn’t concentrate, I wasn’t tired at night.

The teachers have increased the workload dramatically. I understand they had to replace class attendance with another activity, but we had to write essay after essay … not to mention those who have economic difficulties or don’t have a good family environment. I am happy to have. However, I feel that some teachers have had a certain lack of sensitivity. There is an inequality that schools need to take into account. We are not all in the same position.

I was very attached to the sport, it was my greatest passion and I stopped doing everything. It felt like I was getting out of bed and not feeling like anything. I feel like I’ve lost interest, that I’ve lost the passion I had for the course when I applied. I just didn’t freeze enrollment because when I was diagnosed with this disease in 2018, I had to do so and didn’t want to miss another year.

In my group of college friends, the complaints were always the same. We felt anxious, unable to sleep, and even those who had never had such depressing thoughts began to have them. But we have to be patient, try to do our best and hold on until this is over because it will end, we just don’t know when. “

Diana Marques, 20, Torres Vedras
ArCo – Center for Art and Visual Communication – Photography

Diana Marques

“I can’t have a laboratory at home, I don’t have a dark room, I don’t have the chemists who work with photography. The essence of the photography course is suspended indefinitely. It seems that there are plans for everything but practical lessons. This has to do with the support of the culture. What was already bad has gotten worse and has reached a point where for many people the difficulties are extreme.

The theoretical lessons went very well. The course is well organized, I was very surprised. We have a new schedule where longtime photography can attend any classes they want, the lessons are more complete, and we ended up reaching out to more people. Even the teachers in the practical classes do their best to go to the labs to illustrate what we should be doing to keep our work going.

At the same time, the workload is greater. And we have to keep a lot of information from the computer. At home I have insomnia and sleep very poorly. And the next day it is difficult to follow the lesson. I really like my course and want to learn as much as possible. When I’m not productive and learning as much as I can, I feel even more pressure.

A few days ago I saw someone say, “If you’re doing what you love, it’s impossible to burn out.” But not! If you like what you do, you want to develop yourself further, do more and better, be creative and sometimes lose track of the hours, tiredness, calm and let yourself be guided by passion. You can go wrong

I think the biggest challenge for a limited degree is dealing with the home environment. It’s not so easy to say, “Sit on the couch and stay home, it doesn’t cost anything!”. There are many people with extremely toxic home environments.

The windows, which were full of little pieces of paper, said, “Let’s all be fine!” now they are filthy, filthy. It is no longer true. Nobody has the patience for it anymore. Sometimes I am concerned because I want to learn so much about this course, but I can’t make the most of it. “

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