Yohan Porus Irani

The coronavirus pandemic took the world by surprise. Naturally, this global public health crisis caused the need to restructure academics and implement changes that aligned with public health guidance and new regulations, which would prioritise the health and safety of our college community and the city.

In September 2020, having spent a few months at home in India, I flew back to Dublin to commence my second year at RCSI. With all the necessary precautions in place, our college began the new academic year using a hybrid approach, including a mix of online and in-person lectures with online exams. I am extremely grateful that the hybrid learning model transitioned smoothly and allowed us to progress academically with little impact or disruption. 

A typical weekly schedule involves two days where we receive in-person teaching, while the remaining days are reserved for online classes. To follow COVID-19 guidelines and the critical need for social distancing and safety, RCSI opened a satellite campus at Croke Park, where we attend in-person lectures in small groups. RCSI’s blended learning approach has allowed us to proceed with therapeutic workshops and nurse-led training that require hands-on activities. Through the hybrid model, I believe that I am truly lucky to have the opportunity to attend lectures, interact with professors and make the most of our learning experience, whether it is by attending online lectures from home or on campus. 

For most of this semester, we experienced many lockdowns where shops and restaurants were closed. Aside from going for walks or visiting parks and gardens, there were not too many activities to participate in. For many, the impact on mental health was significant, as living alone and away from family made it even more difficult. Though the transition was initially tough, I gradually adapted. Over the course of a few months, I grew accustomed to staying in and studying slowly.

Through the pandemic and the shift to a hybrid learning environment, we learnt lessons in adaptability and resilience, while understanding the importance of prioritising self-care. It became critical to find the time to slow down and find small ways to relax and decompress. To keep myself mentally and physically healthy, I like to schedule breaks where I plan different activities. Whether it is through a vigorous workout, taking a brisk walk with a friend or even experimenting with new recipes and cooking up some favourite foods, I always make it a point to wind down and focus my energy on something else.  

Overall, RCSI has made great efforts to ensure the safety, health and general well-being of students, which has made student life manageable under these unprecedented circumstances. The need to remain healthy and safeguard the well-being of the greater community and ourselves made it easier to accept and practice these changes as we adapted to the 'new normal'.

Yohan PorusIrani, 2nd Year Medicine Student