Once again, another major change; I’m back in Australia.
Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 I had to return home. I am currently on day 8 of 14 days in quarantine. Two weeks ago, everything rapidly began to change. WHO declared COVID-19 a pandemic and countries began closing their borders as the virus spread rapidly and many people were dying. Norway first closed their borders to all non-Scandinavian countries then soon after closed it borders to everyone. Schools, fitness centres and sports and recreational events, were all closed overnight. UNIS initially said they were closing for 2 weeks. Over the next week the situation developed globally as many nations started to realise the severity of the virus. We were urged to leave Longyearbyen by the local government as Svalbard was classified as “vulnerable” as it does not have the medical services to handle an outbreak. Soon followed recommendations by both the Norwegian and Australian government and all universities I am associated with; the University of Queensland, University of Bergen and UNIS. I believe I made the right decision to return home as the situation is getting worse all over the world and the end is not in sight. All that being said, I deeply miss my arctic life.
With many people suddenly at home and unable to travel there has been a massive shift in most industries being moved online to adapt to the new circumstances. All teaching and assessment from most teaching institutions around the globe have had to be redesigned for an online syllabus. As bioCEED develops new teaching methods we have been directly involved in this transition. I’ve not only been able to observe firsthand how things are changing but also help contribute. Prior to the pandemic I was attending a lot of meetings as both a bioCEED and student representative. It was interesting to get a perspective into the staff/ work culture. I started to grasp the collective teamwork in a workplace. I enjoyed being privy to meetings were my opinions were not only heard but valued. I felt quite comfortable working with people from a range of departments. This could potentially be from working in the hospitality industry over the past 10 years, as you develop people skills by engaging with a diverse bunch of people in a wide range of circumstances.
Luckily most of bioCEEDs current projects are designed for online use but can also be worked on from online. While the past 2 weeks has been more damage control, life has settled back down (just on the other side of the world). My internship will continue forward and we will continue to work on the same projects. All of the editing of the text has been approved for the website. Now I have to learn how to build and develop the website. I have little training in web development and will be interested to see how take it up. I think this part will be quite finicky and could be a little frustrating, however I usually end up enjoy projects like this in the end. I believe these news skills could be very beneficial in the future. It will be interesting to see how things transition and how we adapt to these strange times ahead.