With the opportunity of being awarded with the WHO-TDR Postgraduate Scholarship, I am currently a student at the Universitas Gadjah Mada (UGM), Indonesia from Bangladesh. Here I am taking the international program in Public Health (MPH), majoring Implementation Research that is co-sponsored by UNICEF, UNDP, the World Bank and WHO. My stay here in Yogyakarta is almost 6,000 KM away from home and for the first time I am in overseas study leaving my only son, parents, wife and the sibling. More or less I miss my family, although that feeling is always paramount for my son. However, the recent emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact in my overseas life here. But undoubtedly, it’s a quite new and unique experience that I have been going through these pandemic days and managing my daily life independently.
Not only limited to here, all around the globe we are passing through a difficult situation in this current pandemic caused by the COVID-19. In this reality, many around us are being affected with several mental and social issues even without getting infected directly from the virus. These ultimately are believed to have contribution in affecting individual’s typical life, which consists of self-care, productivity and leisure. But true that as human being we have also the long history of facing and overcoming this kind of crisis with various potentialities.
Needless to say, these pandemic days are not like the other typical days that I passed though at the beginning in my life at Yogyakarta. All on a sudden it’s been a big change in life style that is brought by COVID-19. I used to love attending the scheduled classes at campus, joining library, meeting friends at favourite coffee shops, praying at mosque and performing compulsory outdoor exercises at the main building (Graha Sabha) campus in the evening everyday. But unexpectedly, my routine in daily life changed remarkably due to this pandemic; as on campus activities were announced to be closed. Apart from that, I was completely out of direct communication with the closed ones here in Yogyakarta, rather became dependent entirely on virtual medias. Accepting all these restrictions in day to day life and isolating myself from all kinds of social gathering was like an unimaginable reality. Due to the frequent deterioration of global and local situation, I felt down and was desperately looking for some sorts of alternative options to adjust with this sudden changing lifestyle as much as possible.
But, to be compliant with the rules of social distance at the time of COVID-19 pandemic, there is nothing better substitute other than staying at home. However, I was fortunate enough since my enrollment at UGM to have been in touch with some excellent local people at campus here in Yogyakarta. By that way, I started to be familiar with the typical tradition, culture, living and many other relevant affairs of the local community. As a consequence, commonly some of them also used to share the updates in terms of local rules and regulations regarding the pandemic via WhatsApp messages. Their virtual company was also supportive to my mental health. But still living in a new territory, isolated in a single room, managing all necessities independently, working with academic tasks; all these are not easy to handle during the global crisis of pandemic. That’s why initially I was afraid of mostly about the supply and availability of daily commodities in the local shops, as it was disrupted in many countries due to the pandemic.
By the way, what actually made me then mostly confident is, the cordial support from WHO-TDR course management at UGM. Because of their kind roles in supplying necessary logistics, personal protectives, daily communication, space for sharing personal matters, I felt unburdened significantly in my mental status. In addition, the regular online follow up of students’ mental and physical health status by the chief of TDR course management (Dr. Elsa Herdiana) was one of the examples of the highest-level cooperation from academic side. The official letter that was issued by the Rector of UGM regarding the assurance of my safeguarding at Yogyakarta had also been a great satisfaction for my family at home. Finally, the cooperation from the Office of International Affairs (OIA), UGM and other administrative staff in regard to relevant information sharing was one of the enabling factors of easing life here during this pandemic.
So, accepting the global reality and with the support available from the university, I then reshuffled my daily life to combat this crisis alternatively with some modifications. These included- balanced diet, regular indoor exercise, adequate sleep, communication with family at home, social ventilation with friends and faculties etc. as much as possible. I faced no interruption in my academic learning due to the accessibility of online classes, which was one of my top concerns in this pandemic. And I am very happy to say, soon I am going to complete my current academic semester despite of facing the issues with restricted mobility in the campus.
In spite of a certain level of concerns, this pandemic has been a remarkable chapter in my life in Yogyakarta. Neither it’s entirely pleasant, nor too much scary completely as well. But the learning for me in these days is immense in considering real life setting. In a nut shell, it taught me how to discover and use the best of my self-determination, courage, communication, patience and other skills in a crisis situation practically. So, let’s not fear this pandemic, rather fight against it with recommended precautions.
4th Batch Master in Implementation Research Students