April 6, 2020, by International students

Coping with change

It’s a difficult time for the world right now and we are all having to adapt to a new way of living and working. In this blog series, we speak with our current students to see how they are adapting to online teaching and social distancing. We have asked them to share their thoughts, feelings and advice for coping with change.


Abhimanyu Baruah, BMBS Medicine

My name is Abhimanyu Baruah, and I am a first-year medical student. I’ve recently returned to my home in Dubai due to the ongoing situation, and while it was frustrating to leave my friends, I have found myself being quite productive at home. Like everyone else, all my lectures have been moved online, and they’re all extremely easy to access. My professors are all very communicative and any doubts I send them are quite quickly answered! Usually, I do prefer being present during a lecture, but I can’t complain with how my lectures have been recently, and if I’m being honest, I’ve started to enjoy them. The University is constantly supporting us, reminding us there are people to talk to if we need encouraging to speak out about any concerns we have.


Talking about my day, the most difficult part is being organised. Since we don’t have lectures at a particular time, it’s quite hard to motivate myself to wake up early. I try to have a schedule for myself, and a to-do list written the night before, I’ve found that this makes things a lot easier.

I spend some free time Face timing my friends, reading books, teaching my old dog new tricks, and trying to search/apply for jobs, so that when this situation calms down, I’ll have a job to start right away. I can’t say this is a positive situation, but I am using the time to learn how to improve my time organisation, spend more time with my family, and improve myself so that I don’t look back at this time wasted. Like everyone else, I do wish this situation wasn’t happening. However, I believe that since it’s out of our control, we should do what we can by staying at home and using this time to do things we’re otherwise too busy to do. Start that blog you always wanted to, read that book you haven’t read before, and get back in touch with friends you haven’t spoken to in ages online, so that you look back with no regrets.

Nadia Barakat, BArch Architecture

My name is Nadia and I’m a second years Architecture student. I’m still in Nottingham and I’m staying alone in the quiet city centre. With borders closing and flights being cancelled, it was difficult to return to my family who are based in Saudi Arabia.

Currently, most of my lectures have finished or are almost finished so I’ve been reviewing notes or videos my lecturers have provided on Moodle, and now I’m starting the final submissions for these modules. For design studio, I’ve had video tutorials twice a week with my design tutor regarding my ongoing final studio project which has been one-on-one and extremely helpful. My design studio has set up a Microsoft Teams page where we interact as a class and our tutors are able to talk to us all and my personal tutor has done the same for his students too.

Nadia’s work schedule

Each day of the week looks different, but I’ve tried to apply a simple schedule to my day, which has helped me be organised with my time. I use my mornings to check both my University email and my personal one, call my parents, and get important things done. Sometimes I’ll even get in some morning yoga. I’ll work for most of the afternoon, breaking for lunch and a mid-afternoon coffee. I’ll stop working before dinner and do a home workout first. For dinner, I’ll try to cook something new and try new recipes, which makes these days alone just a bit more interesting. For the rest of the evening, I binge watch Netflix or call my friends around the world. It’s been interesting to see how different people are coping and has helped me because I’ve realised almost everyone is going through the same thing and we can learn from each other.

I’ve laid out a work schedule for the week, excluding times, sort of like a checklist so that I’m sure I’ve accomplished all I needed that week. By my kitchen table I’ve stuck my work schedule, a meal schedule, and my tutorial call schedule so I’m on top of my work and can clearly see the week ahead. Obviously, it’s impossible to completely stick to any schedule but I’m okay with that and try my best.

Every couple of days I’ve gone for a walk or run alone either by the canal or Embankment area to get some fresh air, exercise a little, and clear my head. I think this experience has been trying and has made me committed to focusing on my work, my mental health, and myself in general so I don’t go…insane.

Halar Memon, PhD Materials Engineering and Materials Design 

Hey! This is Halar Memon. I am currently pursuing my PhD in Materials Engineering and Materials Design at the University of Nottingham. I am a 4th year student, which means that I have completed my experimental studies and now writing my thesis. I am an international student from Pakistan, currently social distancing in my university room. I decided to stay back as I might endanger myself or a member of my household, something I absolutely don’t want to do. I am also part of the pastoral care, residential tutor team, and I believe helping my fellow students is paramount for mutual benefit and wellbeing. While I benefit from high-speed internet connection in my room, I can work from home and stay in touch with my academic supervisors via Microsoft Teams. This virus has simulated a huge social experiment and demonstrated how the future might look like should all activities go virtual.

Halar’s cooking

Social distancing has helped me a lot to focus on my studies. It has given me ample time to focus on my writing, nourish my concepts and sharpen my ideas. If you are in your room, sitting on a rolling comfy chair, listening to your favourite type of music and holding a nicely brewed cup of coffee, you could either feel alone or exploit your entire freedom. The morale of the story is, everything is all about mindset and how we shape our approach to surroundings. Keeping myself positive and busy in these challenging times is key to upholding an optimistic mind and maintaining a sound mental health.  When I say busy, I mean a structured routine. Lack of motivation and tasks brew uncertainty and anxiety in one’s mindset. In contrast, sipping coffee at 11 am, doing my writing until 2 pm, taking a shower at 3 pm, making dinner at 4 pm and going for a walk at 7 pm etc. definitely helps. Cooking food, for instance, is one of the relaxing exercises that I do, and it is highly economical and healthy. Ask your friends and family to advise you about some of the exciting books they had read or drama series they had watched. You will be amazed how many exciting things you were missing. Isn’t it great that you have all the time now to explore and watch? Playing a game is also an option, a great way to exercise your mind. I know it is easier said than done, but we need to flatten the curve. We need to perform damage control to a level we can manage. Talk to family members, but at the same time, don’t overwhelm yourself with too many emotions. Balance is the key here. You have all the time at home, the time you always wanted.

The university has been very efficient in delivering vital information to us and our residence hall has been very supportive as well, keeping us well informed and in the loop. We are staying as usual and all amenities are provided to us as normal. We are also constantly receiving mental health support, security assurance, and updates about the surrounding situation. All to ensure our wellbeing and welfare. In addition, the mental health team and occasional health professionals are a just ring away to listen to us and provide the necessary feedback. Isn’t all this amazing?

The gist of this talk is, stay positive, keep yourself physically and mentally fit, watch the movies and drama you always wanted to watch. However, do all while balancing tasks and without overwhelming yourself.

This is your time, and trust me, you will miss it. Don’t let it escape and grab it like a hand sanitizer!




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