Thriving during lockdown – a woman student perspective

The honeymoon phase of lockdown

As we enter the last quarter of 2020, I’m eager to see it out with a bang. Studying full-time and managing a household while my husband works at the hospital has been one crazy and transformative journey simultaneously. At first, it was nice having him at home during those first 3 weeks of lockdown when we were under the false impression that it would only be temporary. After running out of meal ideas and baking recipes (and alcohol) I started losing my patience. Since he is an essential healthcare worker, he was required to return to work at the hospital and assist with efforts there.

Transition to online learning

Courses resumed over the new lifeline to the outside world – Zoom and despite the initial upset over not seeing my classmates in person which made things like groupwork exceptionally difficult. I had no choice but to make sure I made the learning experience worthwhile. I delved into new courses and reading materials with gusto, excited to learn things like modelling on Excel, planning operations and learning about business in Africa and society at large. In order to make my foray into the uncharted territory of business studies, I tried to link everything I learnt to healthcare which is my original background and made things far easier to understand.

A never-ending list of chores

In between lectures, I managed to do chores around the house. My husband would assist by vacuuming in the morning before he left for the hospital so although my 6 am was noisy, it made life far easier for me when there was one less chore to worry about. But I still had cooking, general cleaning and laundry to do. There was even a point where I would put my video feed off and dry the clothes or fold them to put away. Staying at home certainly made it dirtier and I’m trapped in a never-ending cycle of chores, one which I am proud to say I have finally found a rhythm and pattern to attend to.

Little bits of joy

One of the things that kept me going was regular (daily) video calls to my family which included guest appearances of my pet rabbit in Johannesburg. Although I miss them terribly, I am adamant about protecting the health of my parents and ensuring that I do not contract the disease from somewhere and spread it to them. But they have been an incredible source of support during studies and always motivated me and helped with Excel spreadsheets. In return, I motivated my little sister who is in her first year of postgraduate studies.

My classmates have also been a significant source of support. One would hesitate to reach out to others for fear of disrupting their study-mojo but it turns out that they shared the same feelings. Although we may have felt jaded with having key events on the student calendar taken away from us, we certainly had more time to finish assignments and prepare for classes without the need to travel to campus. We kept encouraging each other to persevere and some will never know how much their motivation had spurred me on. As testimony to how good I felt, I managed to pass everything and some marks were even distinctions.

Go ahead and jump!

Being sedentary and constantly nibbling on study snacks for many a month did no favours for my physique. Luckily Youtube dance aerobics videos came to my rescue when the Cape Town weather was at its nastiest and now in the warmer months, I maintain a daily brisk walk for half an hour. Exercise has definitely been a stress reliever and I’m hoping to intensify my regimen once studies are over. It also gives me more energy during the day and helps keep me focused.

I am eager to learn more about the experiences of others during lockdown, especially the positives that people have developed in coping with lockdown and working from home. We have all been made aware of the negative impacts of lockdown on both women and men during lockdown but we have barely scraped the surface on any positive experiences that people have had during the lockdown. I am aware that I may be biased since I do not have any children or elderly that I have had to look after and neither do I have a job. So I would love to learn more about the experiences of others who are in different contexts. Feel free to share your thoughts and journeys with us!

Gillian Moodley

Gillian Moodley is a student at the University of Stellenbosch undertaking research to understand the experiences of women and men during the lockdown implemented in South Africa from the 26th of March 2020. An experienced Associate with a demonstrated history of working in research and non-profit organizations, Gillian is skilled in Microsoft Word, Management, Healthcare, Survey Design, and Quantitative Research.