May 31, 2022

To what extent has the pandemic changed us?

As June is approaching, and seeing the latest measures slowly retreating, all of us hope and rejoice at the ending of a great problem, a very harsh situation, and a different everyday life we have experienced lately, during the quarantine. One would say that it was a storm, a disturbance in our lives that stirred fear, sorrow, as well as negative emotions into us, something that may have simultaneously developed into a particularly great lesson for us. I am Zoe, I am 19 years old now, and I have talked with people of different ages, interests, from different parts of Greece, having as my only purpose the promotion of their own changes, their own page in the book of their life that refers to this bizarre period we went through.

Paschalis, 19 years old, medical student: When the pandemic broke out, I was attending the second semester of the second year of high school, feeling anxiety and nervousness about the national university entry exams, since I commenced preparing for them. The situation was completely unprecedented for all teachers and students and I will not hide that the adjustment was hard. One thing I was able to improve was perhaps my contact with computers and technology, since I used to spend most of my day there, either reading or trying to find ways to entertain myself during that time. Being an undergraduate now, I have realized the extent to which the conditions at that time have affected the way I can comprehend the lesson, the way I concentrate on it. From the comfort of my desk, to my impersonal figure during the zoom lessons, to the university chairs within the huge amphitheatre, now being exposed to my fellow students and professors’ eyes, I strive not to distract my attention from the lesson, but I find it a bit difficult. I should confess that due to my school direction then (health) and my love for the subject, medicine, the pandemic and the Coronavirus never frightened me, since I was trying to be informed on a daily basis about the new research, treatments, the complexity of the virus. Looking back now, somewhat distanced, I can say that the situation has changed me, maybe not instantly, but it just helped me investigate aspects of myself and discover interests that I didn’t have before, which in turn, have developed me into today's Paschalis.

Alkioni, 22 years old, student of Philology: When the pandemic broke out, we were all very terrified. It was a situation that we experienced for the first time - my generation at least. You had the fear of leaving home, encountering and even touching your own people. I rarely went out until I realized that the virus didn't pose a serious threat to young people. The truth is that I was deprived of my student years, though not all but plenty of them, which would have offered me new and unique experiences. On the upside, after so many years I found some time for myself again, whom I had neglected, and I benefited from it.

Joanna, 89 years old, retired: The Coronavirus was huge trouble for me. An extremely big disturbance, a threat, something very foreign and very dangerous. My husband and I have lived in the village since we were born, a village of 100 permanent residents. At that time, the church was shut down as well as the village cafe, and as a consequence, we could not see anyone. Apart from this, our family, our children and grandchildren could not visit us, we literally felt like a forgotten village on a hillside. The visits to the doctor became even more difficult with the constant fear of being infected by the virus. We have already experienced viruses, epidemics, serious and incurable diseases in hard times, when there were neither medicines nor vaccines and all of the above have taught us the same lesson, to be careful, to take care of ourselves, to be patient in order to embrace again those who keep us alive, our family.

Efthimios, 60 years old, teacher: When the pandemic broke out, certainly we were unprepared. I have been a teacher in secondary education for 36 years and I have to admit that the last two years have been some of the most difficult we have been forced to cope with. The communication between teachers and students, as well as between the fellow teachers, was lost, and as a result, the lessons were not so effective. The students’ adjustment was difficult, but gradually everything returned to its normal condition, so children can adapt easily. As a parent of 4 children, 3 of whom are undergraduates, I have to admit that at first I was enthusiastic about the return of all of them at home to spend the lockdown days together and it may have been one of the advantages of this situation. Finally, what has changed during the pandemic is that we became accustomed to being more introverted, limiting ourselves to greetings and smiles behind the masks, keeping distance from people and things we used to do previously.

The pandemic may be a new chapter in the future history books, on the other hand, it may remain a small secret of the generations that have experienced it. In any case, it has obviously affected the entire world, it has changed the lives of the people, either to a large or to a small degree. It is a manifestation and a lesson for all of us that we live in a fluid reality, where everything can change out of the blue, either permanently or temporarily. This is a fact that we should accept and live more flexible and adaptable to what time brings us, so that every change in our life is a new challenge, and that we are able to reap only the benefits of it and put aside anything negative.

Zoe Papagianni

Born 19 years ago, the happiness and enthusiasm of a small child are still evident in her. She is a student of the School of Mechanical Engineering, trying to find a balance between science and art, the science of life, which she loves. She adores socializing, conversing, and helping; but once her social batteries are empty, she needs to be isolated with her thoughts and emotions in order to recover.

Panagiota Ioannidou (she/her)

A vegetarian from Thessaloniki that fell in love at first sight with the English language. She has a mind full of poems trapped in a ballerina’s body. Torn between chaos and peace. In times of darkness, she keeps searching for inspiration, warm hugs, long journeys and the kiss of her dog. Books, chocolate, wine, love - this is what she is made of.

Chrysoula Toliopoulou (she/her)

A 21 year old optimist who is constantly striving to improve herself. I live by travelling, looking at the sky and observing my surroundings. Nature and space enthusiast, with grand affection towards the environment and any form of art but especially music! Gaining courage by volunteering and petting dogs! Also learning foreign languages in my free time but still struggle to communicate with people sometimes.

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