• Tags:
  • blog

This post was written by Thiago Bogossian, PhD researcher at the University of Surrey. You can reach him on Twitter at @thibogossian and read his blog at https://thiagobogossian.wordpress.com/.

International PhD students went through the pandemic with fewer networks of support and resilience than local ones.

Before the first lockdown, I used to go to the Department every day, sometimes even Saturdays and Sundays, as Graduate School did not teach me to have a healthy work/life balance. Besides, being an international student with no family members around and just a few friends and living in a small university town for the first time in my life, working gave me a much needed structure and predictability. When the first lockdown came and we were told we could not go back to the office, the structure of my life was taken away and it felt like my fragile world was being torn apart.

For a few interminable weeks, I was not able to do any progress in my work at all and was living one day after another. Although people from the university sent us several emails and were checking on us quite often, I still felt miserable and anguished of seeing my deadlines approaching and my funded period coming closer to an end with no promises of extensions. I lost my grandfather during the first lockdown and I was not able to fly back home during the Summer because of travel disruptions and uncertainty. I kept exercising to keep my body busy and could rely on a few friends who kept in touch.

I feel like the sense of isolation and loneliness which are already common place for PhD students and are even tougher for international PhD students got exacerbated during the pandemic. Previous inequalities were brought into light due to the covid disruption. My supervisors were still very kind and I was grateful for my personal networks, but institutional support was inadequate. As I said elsewhere, resources in higher education are scarce – we are told – but specific provisions to people from marginalised groups should be implemented to bridge this gap and make sure we are not even more excluded.

We are publishing blog posts from the PGR community about the pandemic. This can be on any topic, such as personal experiences, opinion pieces or poetry. If you would like to contribute please DM us on Twitter at @pandemicPGRs