Recent events have shaken people around the world in diverse ways. While some countries have applied strict quarantine rules, other are even allowing gatherings as usual. As of now, Iceland has not banned anyone from leaving their homes, unless they’ve been asked to stay in quarantine. There’s also a ban from gatherings of over 20 people and it’s asked that individuals remain at a 2 meters distance from one another.
In this sense, universities have shut down along with gyms, and many places of leisure also opted to either close their business in the meanwhile or adapt as much as possible to the current break of paradigm. But what does this mean for students?
A recent survey done by the Student Council of the University of Iceland indicated a less than optimal state of mind regarding students facing such a huge disruption of the status quo. Fear of becoming indebted, not being able to conclude the semester in the expected schedule, bureaucratic issues with the Directorate of Immigration, not to mention fear for one’s health and that of their friends and family seems to be pushing students towards anxiety and depression. With that in mind, the Student Council has been doing everything within its power to help students, and measures have been taken such as including students into the unemployment act and allowing a momentary reduction in rent for those living in Student Housing. However, there are issues of community that can be helped by us, the students, towards each other.
We’re all used to social interaction, and even though personal interaction is not advisable right now, if not downright impossible for those in isolation (self-imposed or otherwise), it is the responsibility of all of us to look after each other. No, we’re not all psychologists, I certainly am not one so, first and foremost, if you think you need a professional for help, do not shy away from it, nothing can replace professional help and I cannot stress that enough: do not drop out of your current psychologist sessions.
Fact is, we still have technology on our side, and even though that does not replace the warmth of having someone with us, this is the instrument we have, to keep together through these times. Call your friends, use skype or something of the sort to actually see each other and keep connected. This is even more important if you have a friend or family member that you know suffers from depression, anxiety or is simply taking it rougher than others, a simple “hello” might make a lot of difference. One more thing: people in Facebook and Instagram tend to post pictures and videos of them in their best moments, this is natural, be wary that this, however,
does not necessarily mean that they are really at their best, a few “stories” and pictures are not samples of a full day; your friend who’s super hyped on Instagram might be having a really hard time outside the internet.
Some people might also not be used to the lack of a clear routine. To those I recommend settings a routine yourself around the daily events you have no control over. For instance: if you have classes at 14:00 that’s something you just can’t control, however, it helps to keep an alarm to wake up at a given time, an specific moment for lunch and dinner, and when you’ll stop studying for the day in order to relax. Routines will maintain your mind focused on a schedule, so you don’t lose track of time.
Talking about mind, society, especially capitalist society has set our minds on an unhealthy path of constant search for solutions. It’s expected that we, as a people, stay productive and consuming for most of the time. This is a bad mindset not only regarding current events, but in life in general. We need to learn to accept things as they are and give in to the fact that life is meaningless without joy. We were not made to toil for somebody’s profits, life has an expiration date, and that means you must make the most of the period you’re alive.
It’s easier said than done but try to stop worrying about the virus and its consequences themselves. Why? Because it is already here and there was absolutely nothing that you, as an individual, could have done to stop it, we know now that certain capitalist leaders knew what was coming and did nothing to lower the impact, only so they could accrue as much profit as possible, but that is on their heads, not yours. There are many things that exist beyond our individual (or even social) control, refusing the inevitability of those events will just make you psychologically exhausted at best. Instead, sit down and understand that at this point, the only way you can help is following instructions to avoid getting infected and avoid affecting others. The other way you can help is as stated above, by using technology to keep up the social bridges that keep us in contact with friends and family.
The world will resume to its normal condition sooner or later, when that happens, however, look how much less you’ve consumed. How you can live comfortably with much less than you usually purchase. Remember that the hard part of this ordeal was due to not seeing your friends and family, to not enjoying the outside world, it was not the absence of some high brand jeans or the latest release of given product. Remember that the mere fact that we retracted, though forcibly, from our usual lifestyle affected nature dramatically and gave it a
much-needed fresh breath. If this happened with such a short span of time, imagine how much more we can do with a clear workplan of international scope to help the environment.
This is the world we live in, when we take back to the streets remember to treat the environment with all due respect and refrain from consumerist urges, let’s unite to rethink the economical scenario and say no to the capitalist culture that degrades humans and nature alike because what we take from this life is not money or goods, but the experience of enjoying life with the ones we love, and for that we need health and an optimal environment.
The author is a member of Röskva and currently holds the position of vice-representative in Social Sciences. The student is coursing a masters in Sociology at the University of Iceland and graduated in Law in Brazil, where he also took post-graduation courses in Civil Process of Law and in Administration.