How Seang is staying positive during COVID-19
1) Remote Education
My university, like others, is conducting all of its classes remotely. Learning this way is a very different experience and I miss the classroom environment. My lab class was canceled completely because we no longer have access to any of the equipment required to complete the class.
2) Minimal campus operation
Currently, the vast majority of Bucknell’s on-campus operations have closed: the library, downtown shuttles, recreation facilities, and many offices. Only the cafeteria, student health and safety offices are open for students who remain on campus, which makes everything seem very deserted.
It feels so different now that there is almost no one on campus. Lewisburg is a small town. Normally, it’s the students who contribute to the town’s sense of liveliness. But now, with less than 200 students on campus, it’s very quiet. I live in the international house on campus, which usually houses 25 students. Now, there are only 6 students still in the house. The atmosphere has been tense. The situation regarding COVID-19 is always on my mind, and is everywhere on social media. It’s hard to not continuously think about it and when it will end, which makes me anxious.
4) Events and Research
Because Bucknell has shut down for the time being, we can’t do the annual SAAB (Students for Asian Awareness at Bucknell) event that my team and I had been preparing for over the last two months. I won’t be able to present my poster on Cambodia to all of the international staff and faculty.
I received a grant for my research proposal this upcoming summer. For now, it is assumed to continue. But if the situation gets worse, it is at risk of being cancelled as well. I really hope the situation gets better in a month or so.
What I’m doing to stay uplifted during this time:
With all that being said, I’m feeling good about my measures to stay positive and connected with others.
1) Staying connected
I am constantly on the phone with my family. They are doing well in Cambodia, and I feel grateful that I now have more time to talk to them. The time difference between us is eleven hours, but we still have family meals together. I eat my breakfast while they are sitting down for dinner!
My mentors Amy, Kinsey, Rohnda, and Liz check in often as well and they are all going through the same struggles and anxieties as I am. I was also able to check in with my mentor Liz’s kids, which was great! A lot of scholars are on campus just like me, and we have group video calls often to catch up and make sure everyone is feeling okay.
Even though I can still pick up food from the cafeteria, I find that cooking food for myself can be really comforting! I’ve been cooking my favorite Cambodian dishes for myself.
Staying inside all day can be stressful, mostly because I’m on my computer now most of the day. I’m glad that I’m able to go out and run, which clears my mind and is stress relieving, especially when it’s a nice sunny day! And, taking a hot shower after a run always makes me feel better.
Now more than ever, I’m happy that I can still study and complete my assignments. They help me stay busy and create some structure during this time. When I’m productive, I feel good.
Now that the semester has ended, Bucknell asked students to leave campus for the summer. I was supposed to stay on campus and do research this summer but, because all summer research is canceled, I wasn’t able to stay on campus. Fortunately, all of my mentors are really understanding and asked me if I would like to stay with them. I am now staying with Liz and her husband and kids in Walnut Creek, California.
After my mentors heard that my summer research opportunity was canceled, all of them helped me with finding remote internships by asking their network and friends. I am now doing two remote part-time internships with the World Affairs Council of Pittsburg and SHE-CAN. I am very grateful for the opportunities and that I can make the best use of my time during this uncertain time.