Mkpouto Pius (MPhil Genomic Medicine, Gates Cambridge Scholar) shares her experiences of living in College during lockdown.
Can you tell us a little bit about what a ‘typical day’ looks like for you at the moment?
I am currently studying from the comfort of my third floor room in Canning and Eliza, and it has been a refreshing experience.
My typical day begins with calls to and from family and friends to check in. Then I make some food, get some studying done, take a break in the evening to go cycling around the College environs or run, a little more studying, and end the day playing games with my friends on houseparty or taking part in online debate tournaments.
One of the things I have found the most pleasurable is cleaning. Without the services of cleaners, it has become a very refreshing daily activity to clean my kitchen, and my room every other day. I think I may be sad when the cleaners come back and take this hidden pleasure away from me (smiles).
How are your studies going?
My studies have thankfully not suffered a lot of setback. The remainder of my classes have already been scheduled online and for my course work, I am able to access online research papers.
Very little of my learning experience has been significantly altered except having to travel to Addenbrookes for classes. I have been in communication with my department and College Tutor via email since the start of the lockdown and still enjoy the usual pastoral support. I have also started working on my dissertation which is due in July and attend weekly meetings with my supervisor to get the appropriate guidance needed. I am also in communication with colleagues from my course, some of whom belong to a journal club, which I co-created, and we meet (virtually) every Wednesday to discuss scientific literature in our field. To stay motivated, I make a list of all the things I need to deliver on each week and tick them off as I go.
What are you doing to relax?
Apart from cycling which is my predominant form of exercise, I like to spend my “me time” listening to music, especially Afrobeat and dancing to the beats. But one of the best ways that I relax is by following the humour on the Twitter Nigeria space, where people share the funny moments of the implications of lockdown on their daily lives, as well as WhatsApp status posts of my friends where there are all kinds of humorous challenges springing up – I always go to bed laughing.
How are your family at home?
My family lives in a small city called Calabar in Southern Nigeria, which currently has very few incidences of COVID-19. They worry about me because they have been following the news and my mum and siblings call and chat with me daily to check up on my health. This has been very helpful as it has kept me from worrying about them myself.
Can you pass on any tips to other students about how to stay motivated at this time?
My tip for staying motivated is: celebrate any positive moments in this period, no matter how small. It was my birthday on 5 April and I had just come out of self-isolation prior to that, thanks to a sore throat. I threw a solo party in my College bedroom and kitchen to celebrate, and held a Zoom party later in the evening to celebrate with friends. I bought myself two birthday cakes (one chocolate and one madeira), several cupcakes, a bottle of wine, and several cans of gin, then fed them to myself for the next two weeks! That’s how to be a happy girl.