We checked in with students to see how you were coping during Lockdown 2.0

The rollercoaster that is 2020 continues to throw us for a loop. Victoria now has a roadmap to reopening, which offers us hope that better days are coming. But without a knowing how much longer we’ll be in lockdown, it’s fair to be feeling a little blue.

This Thursday is R U OK? Day, an important opportunity to check in and find out how our friends, family, colleagues and classmates are coping.

We wanted to get a sense of how you were managing during this unusual time. We sat down with two of our MyLaTrobe interns, Matt Caton and Sasha Judith Vaz, to ask them about how they were keeping their spirits up in Lockdown 2.0.

MyLaTrobe: So, Week 7 of Semester 2 and we’re still studying remotely. How are you and your Uni mates feeling about the situation?

Matt: I would say that most people’s mindsets are that they are just trying to push on with everything. Once everything is gone and done with, then things will get better. And that mindset is what I believe a lot of people are in. Right now I’ve settled into studying at home and I’m quite alright with it.

Sasha: I prefer online learning now that I’ve experienced it. I always had a misconception about online learning – that it wouldn’t help me understand subjects properly. But it’s been a blessing for me to know about e-learning and how i can still understand and enjoy my classes from home. In the beginning everything was tough, but now my mood is calm now. If I am learning something, it doesn’t really matter where it’s coming from, be it online or face to face; at least we are getting to learn something. A few of my friends find it interesting too, rather than travelling to campus. So I think many students are enjoying the experience.

What’s been the toughest part about studying in lockdown instead of on campus?

Matt: I would say that the teacher-to-student interaction is what has taken the largest hit for me. The difficulty of not being able to see a teacher and ask them a quick question about something is the hardest. While you can still do so in a zoom call, it’s not quite the same. Luckily, I have been constantly talking to my uni friends and keeping up to date with them and everything going on. We do zoom calls a lot while we are all studying so that we can keep each other focussed, just like we would usually if we were at university. Having those moments of normality where we are just talking while studying really helps mentally.

What about you, Sasha? How are you staying connected?

Sasha: I have a few friends that I keep in touch with on video calls and phone calls once in a while, whether it’s related to Uni or just for fun. Even just a text can help. My friends are doing fine lately, although they have been affected by job losses. But they are resilient. Once in a while, a call is enough to check up on them and give them assurance that they’re not alone.

Let’s talk mental health. It seems like people are looking out for each other more these past few months. Do you agree?

Matt: For sure. Mental health is something that has become a massive issue during this. I’m constantly checking up on my friends, my family and my co-workers. During these difficult times it’s vital for everyone to be supporting one another in any way that they can. Just simply messaging someone and asking how they are going can make their day. I’m lucky to have a really good support group of friends around me and one of the biggest helps during this time is that most of my friends are home and playing video games so having an escape with mates online is actually great.

Sasha: My approach is to accept the situation and do my best to move on. The more I think about what’s happening around us, the more it will impact my inner peace. So I’m just staying calm and remaining focused. There’s more time to take care of myself because there is no travel time. So whenever a class is over i just log out and go for a walk or have something to eat, relax, watch TV and do other kinds of stuff.

You mention TV. Between work, study and downtime, I think we’re spending a lot of time in front of screens or online right now. What’s the impact?

Matt: I would say studying online hasn’t impacted my daily screen time all too much. If I was still going to university I’d be sitting there looking at a computer screen and writing notes on the computer anyway. But what I find does help is to get up every so often for a drink of water, eat some food, stretch the legs and give my dog some attention. It’s a little bit of procrastination mixed in with a necessary break. I’ve also learnt the importance of switching up your location. It makes a world of difference to me to study in different locations around the house. I would say that it’s definitely beneficial.