There’s no doubt about it, COVID-19 has changed a lot of the ways in which we interact with each other. From the moment we were introduced to the phrases ‘national lockdown’, ‘reproduction number’, and the all-too-familiar ‘social distancing’, our lives were completely altered. It was more serious than just stocking up on toilet paper or trying not to sneeze while taking the test swab; most of us didn’t see our colleagues, our friends, and even our family members for over a year. Even when we did, it was coupled with anxiety, wearing a mask, and lots of distance. What’s more, many of us lost people we love and care about, and all of us were touched by the compassion and resilience shown by our doctors and nurses, as well as the key workers and other essential people who kept our society functioning in this time of uncertainty.
In my experience, for those of us studying, the often-isolating world of academia became even more shut down and closed off. As our lectures swiftly moved online, and our social interactions quickly dissipated, our university desks were replaced by home offices, beds, couches, and that ‘spot’ near the window, where nobody would distract you. We adapted to new ways of working, new ways of engaging with our subjects, new methods of data collection, and new ways of interacting with our colleagues that were both unprecedented and not what we signed up for. Many of us had to change our research proposals entirely, which caused a great deal of continued stress and worry. As zoom meetings rapidly ate away at our days and our motivation turned to gold dust, there seemed little option but to merely grit our teeth and trudge through all the uncertainty.