The COVID-19 pandemic came like a thief in the night. It is first and foremost a health crisis. Many countries have (rightly) decided to close schools.
The crisis crystallizes the dilemma that the policymakers are facing between closing schools (reducing contact and saving lives) and keeping them open (allowing workers to work and maintaining the economy).
The severe short-term disruption is felt by many families around the world. Teaching is moving online, on an untested and unprecedented scale.
Student assessments are also moving online, with a lot of trial and error and uncertainty for everyone. Many assessments have simply been cancelled.
Importantly, these interruptions will not just be a short-term issue, but can also have long-term consequences for the affected cohorts and are likely to increase inequality.
The rapidly-developing coronavirus crisis is dominating global headlines and altering life as we know it. Many schools worldwide have closed.
I am personally adjusting to learning and socializing remotely, spending more time with family, and sacrificing comfort and convenience for the greater good.
The pandemic has affected all and sundry including myself. The coronavirus has changed how I work, play and learn with schools closed, sports leagues canceled, and many people asked to work from home.
I will share practical experiences of the impacts (both positive and negative) it has had on some areas of my life.
MY DAILY ROUTINE
As a student, the first thing I was taught is sleeping early and rising early.
As a final year Law student, a typical Monday morning involves: waking up as early as possible, saying my prayers, preparing for classes, and rushing to the lecture hall to avoid missing my Company Law or Jurisprudence Class.
It also involves shuttling, running my administrative duties as a student leader and visiting the library to read up a case or material.
My typical weekend before the pandemic involves taking a walk on a Saturday morning or going to class to read up my courses and do assignments. While my Sunday morning is spent in church, my evening is spent chatting and laughing with friends.
Fast-forward to Covid-19. Everything has been put on a halt. No waking up in the morning, no reading up cases, no Sunday service. My laziness and procrastination level has tremendously increased.
Most times, I lack the zeal and discipline to read and be useful. Social media has become my new company. I sleep longer than usual and have fallen in and out of love severally out of boredom and loneliness.
Recently, someone asked me what I treasure most in life.
“Family”, I replied. Yes! Family. In a little village in Nnewi is a unit I value more than anything in life. I come from a family where we mostly talk with our spirit and chat and send text messages instead of verbal communication.
This may be the longest time I’ve spent with my family; all thanks to the pandemic. During this period, we have bonded more; I now realize how peculiar each of us is. I now understand the different love languages of each of my siblings, parents inclusive.
I now know how one thinks and what works for each of them including their likes and dislikes. I have come to realize that in the end, all we have left is family.
This year is supposed to be my graduation year. I have been counting down to the day I finally graduate and be a lawyer. But you know what they say? Man proposes, God disposes.
With the wake of the pandemic, I am stuck in the gory dungeon of fear and doubt. I have wondered if graduating this year and going to law school is still feasible.
While I know that a lot of people have resorted to online teachings, I have wondered if the present Nigerian education system is ready for it.
It is a fallacy to believe that online learning can be effective by merely posting a lecturer’s notes or having a video recording of the lecture. Yet, this is what is generally happening at present.
Experience has shown that quality online learning requires that the teaching material is prepared by a professional instructional designer, that the lecturer is pedagogically trained for delivering the programme and the students are equally exposed to the pedagogy of online learning.
Unprepared online delivery will have an impact on the quality of programmes. This is unfortunate at a time when insignificant achievements have been made in improving the quality of teaching and learning in Nigerian higher education institutions.
The worst affected programmes will be science and technology as students will be unable to access laboratories for their practicals.
MY GRADUATE OPPORTUNITIES
Every law student looks forward to being gainfully attached to a law firm in the form of an internship after graduation.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, law students across the country are battling canceled lectures, exams, uncertain internship start dates and changing extracurricular programs. Many are unsure of what the future has in store for them.
For many law students, internships are opportunities to make an impression for potential employment opportunities after law school. Here I am worried that I might miss the opportunity for an internship this year.
FINDING WAYS TO SOCIALIZE
Saying that this virus completely changed my day to day living would be an understatement. I went from having things to do from 5:00 am to 11:00 pm every weekday to doing absolutely nothing.
The whole of April had been booked – my friend’s wedding, friendly meetings, variety shows, church events etc – that I was going to attend, everything – canceled. Everything that I was looking forward to just came to a halt.
Finding new ways to stay social has been essential. Recently, my friends and I met (stayed more than 3 feet apart from one another), talked and enjoyed each other’s company for over an hour and a half. This was crucial in keeping our sanity.
We missed each other and being in the presence of people other than our family; however, we were sure to maintain social distancing.
We did not touch anything new and we stayed more than 3 feet apart from each other speaking about the adjustments we have been making and the ways we have been coping with all of the changes we are experiencing.
LIVING WITH MENTAL, EMOTIONAL AND FINANCIAL STRAIN
The coronavirus pandemic is having a significant impact on me. Physically, it’s reducing my daily physical activity to the point where the most exercise I get is walking around my house and dancing around my room with my siblings to songs that make me feel like I’m not in the middle of a pandemic.
Emotionally, it has also been straining. I miss my closest friends a lot and feel lonely often. Then you have my Mum who is a nurse so she has to face the virus. I get scared she might get sick.
The pandemic also came with a lot of financial strain in the family. No more leftover foods and unnecessary waste of things, a grain of rice and a drop of water counts. It is indeed a trying time for my family, but we are doing our best to hold up.
APPRECIATING THE GOOD
Although we are going through a horrific time filled with all kinds of uncertainty, we are allowed to spend more time with our loved family and learn more about ourselves to a broader extent while also strengthening our mental mindset.
I can’t stress the amount of frustration I have to return to class and my everyday routine, however, I’ve learned to become stronger mentally while also becoming creative on how I live my life without being surrounded by tons of people every day.
Although I could list all the negatives that come with Covid-19, being a final year law student and the Bar President in my school, this quarantine has been a nice calm break from a life that seemed to never stop.
An upside to these past weeks of quarantine is being able to see my usually busy family more, especially my father. I’ve had more talks and laughs with my family in the last few days than I’ve had in the past couple of months, which helped lighten such a stressful time in my opinion.
My name is Okeke, Chukwudi Kene.
Chukwudi Kene Okeke is a freelance writer and fire brand student advocate from the Faculty of Law, University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He has to his credit a proven track record of exceptional leadership ability and ultimate excellence in organization and human resource development. He is currently the President of the University of Nigeria Students’ Bar Association (UNSBA). Kene as he is fondly called enjoys reading, cooking, teaching and spending time with family.
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