Anxious about the coronavirus? Having trouble concentrating? Are you getting nowhere with your studies? Are the walls closing in? Do you just feel infinitely lonely?
Events have been cancelled, cafés closed and rehearsals postponed. The coronavirus pandemic has suddenly changed the entire world around us. At the time of writing, around 3,200 cases have been confirmed in Finland. The effects can be seen everywhere in society, including students’ lives and routines. When can we return to our normal routines: lectures, the library, lunch at Unicafe and work? The constant uncertainty is exhausting.
Lecture halls have been replaced with distance lectures and essays. Student life has moved from the campus to home. At the same time, the other pillars of everyday life have had to move or morph into something else. We can no longer have lunch with friends on campus or exercise in Unisport’s facilities. Instead of meeting people face to face, we are now everywhere remotely. However, creativity has had the chance to shine as we invent new ways to replace the routines of our leisure time.
For many, getting used to the exceptional circumstances has resulted in some difficult moments. Families try to cope with both the children’s education and the adults’ work together. The economic situation in Finland is dire, and many have an even more dire financial situation on a personal level.
Isolated everyday life
What will happen to graduation as the methods of completing courses change? How can you complete the mandatory internship? Socially, too, the exceptional situation is an especially tough time. Many students live alone in apartments that are smaller than average, and their family may be hundreds of kilometres away. Months-long isolation is difficult for anyone, and it may have mental health effects.
No-one can yet predict when the coronavirus will be beaten and the exceptional situation over. Uncertainty over the future can be mentally straining and distressing. In an exceptional situation, all kinds of exceptional feelings are acceptable and perfectly understandable. A global pandemic is visible to us most concretely on a personal level. Even without the pandemic, around one third of students suffer from mental health symptoms during their studies. It goes without saying that we will also face many new challenges and difficulties in this situation. However, together we are stronger and together we will survive this ordeal, too.
Stronger together – remotely, too
As a student union, we strive to do our best to support students during these difficult times. Our specialists are there to help you if you are worried about your subsistence, for instance. We also support our organisations in the exceptional situation. We are taking part in organising May Day remotely. We have also opened HYY’s own Discord server where the students of the University of Helsinki can meet and look for company and peer support.
There are many other parties offering further support. The University of Helsinki is organising online events that support wellbeing during the spring, while the University’s Student Services provide remote guidance. The university chaplains offer discussion help, and the study psychologists continue their consultations remotely. Nyyti ry organises lots of chats aimed especially at students during the spring – you can discuss your worries there, too.
The student community is, above all, inventive and strong. Together we will make it through this, and together we will be able to provide support to everyone who needs it. Please do not hesitate to contact the Student Union or other parties that offer support. Contact your loved ones. Tell a friend if you are feeling anxious. The exceptional situation gives rise to uncertainty, loneliness and worry. However, no-one should have to be alone – not even in exceptional circumstances.