Insecurity. Loneliness. Goals and the pressure they bring. Those words may be an accurate summary of someone’s experiences and moods this past spring. The coronavirus created a new reality for us to live and operate in as students, and more importantly, as people, ourselves, and as fellow human beings.

The COVID-19 spring has shown us the cold, hard truth that while the state of emergency affects all of us, it has a different impact on different people. The coronavirus has highlighted the diversity in people’s situations in life, backgrounds, and starting points that sent them on the path towards their current situation.

Being a student is sometimes like riding a train: Sometimes there’s a delay or a brief shutdown, and at other times it’s a smooth ride forward, like you would expect when heading down a ready-made track. This spring’s turmoil has raised some uncertainties regarding the advancement of people’s studies, created a sense of loneliness, and for some, affected their summer job income, making it completely unpredictable. Fortunately, the tracks can be repaired, developed, and improved for the proverbial train so that every student can have a steady and safe ride during their studies.

At the National Union of University Students in Finland (SYL), we’ve been working remotely for three months. It has brought with it a certain efficiency boost, with how task-focused our working hours are now compared to working at the office, where it’s normal to spend time together with our colleagues and to exchange thoughts and humorous quips in the corridors and our office living room. We organized a spring wrap-up event in a park for our crew in mid-June, meaning that we got to see our coworkers face-to-face after three long months apart. It felt incredibly good and provided a boost of energy for the early summer months, as well as for the coming fall.

Insecurity. Loneliness. Goals and the pressure they bring. Those were the words we used to start this piece because they have been a familiar burden also to us at SYL this spring. We’re all in the same boat, but everyone is holding a different set of oars. For some, this past spring may have been a secure and comfortable time of retreating and relaxing, whereas others may have experienced a lot of anxiety due to the isolation, restrictions put on our society, and worries arising from one’s own or loved ones’ belonging to a risk group.

The Finnish summer is short—and hopefully not filled with snow. When having to cope with all this uncertainty, it might be beneficial to use this time of authorities slowly lifting the COVID-19-related restrictions and people starting their summer holidays to focus on the basics of life, in which you can find strength and well-being in a way that suits you. Hopefully, the most intense part of this coronavirus ordeal is behind us, and we can say that it’s unlikely that the world will return to exactly how it was. However, at least for us at SYL, this pandemic has shown how much strength, wellness, and joy can be found in reuniting with people. It’s a luxury that we haven’t been able to enjoy in a long while.

Make this summer a summer that has your name written all over it! Your studies will sort themselves out in one way or another, and the tracks will keep us on the right path towards our goals. The summer is a time you should spend focused on the most important matter of all: taking care of yourself.

Paavo Antikainen, SYL member of the board
Touko Niinimäki, SYL Social Policy Adviser

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