As you know the last couple of weeks have been difficult ones here in Canada and around the world as we all take precautions against the spread of COVID-19, and as we adjust to the new normal that involves the cancellation of in-person classes and committing to social distancing and self isolating. It has been a stressful time as we are all being inundated with email updates, Facebook posts, and news reports. It’s important, while all of this is happening, to be aware of the various resources available to us as Queen’s students.
The School of Graduate Studies has put together a page with COVID-19 updates – https://www.queensu.ca/sgs/covid-19-sgs-updates that provides information on Academic Work, International Students, Finances and Work, Services on Campus, and information for Post-Doctoral Fellows. Though this is a time of physical distancing, it’s still important to maintain your connections with others. Reach out to your friends and family to see if they need help or just check in with others and say hi. The SGPS has been hosting online events like Netflix parties, so maybe it’s a good time to think about other ways you can connect using technology.
Other resources that we have access to during this time include Empower Me and Good2Talk for people to talk to after hours and on weekends. There’s the QUIC’s International Student Advisors and Queen’s Intercultural Advisor, as well as the Graduate Peer Support Centre and Peer Academic Advisors Program. Student Academic Success Services is another great resource that is still available to students. They have online resources to aid with writing and they are still doing 1:1 appointments virtually.
This week some of the Gradifying writers are coming together to let you know how things have been going with them, how life has changed and their words of encouragement for their fellow graduate students.
My husband and close friends are frontline healthcare workers in an underserved Indigenous community in Northern Quebec. They leave their families behind for six months a year to provide essential health care services to the Cree community. This week, I’ve been holding them close to my heart, cheering them on, and feeling immensely grateful for their service. Franklin Roosevelt said that ‘courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the assessment that something else is more important than fear.’ Everyday during this crisis, they have shown up to work 10-12 hour days understanding the risks to their own health but knowing that it is their duty to serve the community. They have shown me what is to be selfless. To those who work in healthcare, are first responders, grocery and pharmacy employees, sanitation workers: thank you.
While you work from home this week, remember those who can’t; be kind to your family members as we adjust to this new normal. Since we all have a little bit more time in our day, reach out to friends and colleagues. Let them know you appreciate them. We could all use a bit of encouragement these days.
As an international student, practicing social distancing is quite hard, especially away from home. Although it’s good to stay informed, I find it also really important to limit our exposure to the news. Too much news, and sometimes misinformation, only makes you feel overwhelmed and is bad for the mental health. I try to stay off news as much as possible while working from home and only check it once a day. When the world slows down, it also gives us time to reflect on our lives and think about what is really important to you. My words of encouragement would be to stay strong, take good care of your health both physically and mentally, and don’t let the virus defeat us. We need to work together in this more connected world!
I’m writing today from Nova Scotia where a state of emergency was declared this past Sunday. I, like many of you, have been anxiously watching the news and listening to the radio daily for updates. I am extremely thankful that I have been able to continue working at my part-time job from home with the company of my cats and my partner. Learning how to stay social while physical distancing has been harder for me than I would have thought, even as someone who enjoys the homebody lifestyle. The last two weeks have led to me either reaching out to or hearing from various family members I haven’t spoken with on social media, connecting with close friends from undergrad that I miss immensely, video hangouts with old and new friends and trying to think of new ways to connect with others. These people all mean so much to me, and while I miss them, I’m also glad that they’re taking the social distancing just as seriously. So my words of encouragement are to make sure you check in with the people in your lives that you can’t see in person right now, and stay connected with them for your own sake and for theirs.
Life has taken a full 360! I mentioned in my last post that I was working on many group projects. The turn of the quarantine has made this both difficult and easier at the same time. Most of my groups are doing a lot more of the divide and conquer strategy, but I find that this tactic, while efficient, is very siloed. It’s obvious why it’s more difficult; having to correspond mainly over various software (Zoom, Google Drive, Skype, Microsoft Teams, etc.) and having to power through so many virtual meetings, all while being at home. As someone who thrives in social spaces and with people, the isolation from the quarantine has been difficult; it’s been difficult to stay motivated to keep working on the projects to finish the semester. At this time, I’m just trying to stay (virtually) connected to friends and family, eat good food, and get work done! I encourage you all to keep your spirits up in this difficult time. If they weren’t already, video calls are now my best friend.
That’s it from us for this week, but please let us know how you’re doing in the comments.