This year has been challenging for everyone, including our graduate students. What were some of the challenges faced by our graduate students during the COVID pandemic? What kind of mental health, physical, or logistic trials did they experience? Conversely, what were some of their positive, humorous, or encouraging experiences? In this series of blog posts, we would like to share their stories with you.

Sarah Enouy and Kimia Fardfini, M.A. Students

Appreciation in the Time of COVID-19

Wow, May is here. What a year it has been…

Before we dive into this blog post, we would like to express our heartfelt gratitude to everyone on the Psychology Graduate Student Association (PGSA) this year. We’re so thankful for our members who have made the time (in addition to their research, teaching and academic commitments) to help us during our first terms as presidents.

This past year has been extremely challenging for everyone, and graduate students haven’t been an exception to that. Each of us has encountered a unique set of challenges associated with the pandemic. In addition to “standard” pandemic-related struggles (e.g., isolation, stress, burnout, etc.), we have had to adjust to online studying, research, and socializing. We will admit, the idea of “working from home” seemed doable when we thought we could work from the comfort of our pyjamas, but online learning got old very quickly.

In the past year, many of us have struggled (and are continuing to struggle) to maintain productivity, collaborating with colleagues, and even our friendships. We miss running into our classmates on campus and chatting before and after class. We didn’t appreciate how important it was to have those little social interactions throughout the day that boosted morale. Something so minor like a wave in the tunnels, a quick chat in the hall before class, and a lunch break at Mike’s with nachos! Now we have to schedule “zoom drinks” or lunch with our friends. It’s been hard adjusting to these new social structures and changing our studying and research to accommodate online-only limitations.

Notably, the graduate students have shown resilience and adaptability to this new online environment – which in part is due to exceptional support from our supervisors and the psychology department at Carleton. We know in these new conditions, it can feel like your work goes unseen and unappreciated. Nobody sees the time you spend “in the lab” or the work you put in studying, mentoring others, or researching. We are here to say WE SEE YOU, WE APPRECIATE YOU. We are SO proud of each and every one of you for your work this past year. There is no “right” way to do grad school to begin with, and there is certainly even less of a “right” way to do it in a pandemic. Regardless, if you only did your coursework this year or scraped by and managed to make it to a conference or publish a paper, or even if you took a leave of absence – good work! Whichever way you re-organized your life to make it through, you are a success for continuing forward.

In close, we want to express our admiration and respect for all of our fellow grad students for their efforts and successes this past year. Congratulations to those who are graduating and to those who will be returning! We look forward to (hopefully) seeing you again in person soon!! Stay safe, and hopefully, we can catch up in the hallways soon.