After six weeks, how are we coping with COVID-19 as a Research Community?

It’s been six weeks. Six weeks of cancelled physical on-campus events that became group zoom calls. Six weeks of turning your dinner table into your office, even if being productive has not been easy (or even possible). Six weeks of looking forward to grocery shopping because that’s the only time you leave your house. Six weeks of finding new ways to hold seminars, learning all about asynchronous teaching, and talking to students scattered all around the globe. Six weeks of baking banana bread, making dalgona coffee or finding out what TikTok is all about – or, in other words, six weeks of finding new ways to procrastinate (or finding new ways to keep yourself sane, whatever you prefer to call it). Six weeks of ups and downs… and feeling like life was turned upside down. It’s been six weeks.

It doesn’t always feel like six weeks – a lot of us feel like time has been passing differently: days seem shorter and longer at the same time. In these strange times, we all learned to adapt, to try something new, and, at times, to let go of trying to control things. And that’s exactly what we tried to do as Hive Scholars.

After six weeks, (that sometimes feels like six days, and other times it feels more like six months) it was time to reflect on how we have coped, and how our virtual Hive, which we created to help you, has become a lifesaver to us — how YOU, our Hive community, have helped us through these chaotic times.

When COVID-19 came around, an obvious joke went around in academic circles: PhD students are already isolated, so nothing will change for them… but nothing could be further than the truth. COVID-19 lockdown and university closures mean a big aggravation to the isolation already experienced by researchers.

Taking on a big research project by yourself, it is impossible to forego long writing afternoons alone, or mornings taken over by data analysis in front of a computer with only your data to keep you company. The life of a PhD researcher is patently known to be alienating and lonely. Yes, PhDs are (most of the time) considered solitary endeavours. But when COVID-19 hit and universities closed, PhD students became even more isolated than they already were.

Keep reading: Sussex Diaries: Coping with COVID-19 as a Research Community

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