Hope in the times of Quarantine

Exactly 8 months ago, I was bawling my eyes out at Mumbai airport, waving goodbye to my family and friends.

As someone who had never lived away from home, the nerves and trepidation were finally catching up. A part of me felt like that nervous five year old child that didn’t want to let go of my comfort zone, the only home I knew.

The things I was worried about seem almost laughable now.

Too many farewell parties, too little sleep: What if I miss my connecting flight? What if the cab driver cannot understand my French? What if I miss my friends waiting for me at Paris airport? How will my classmates be? Will I make friends? What if there is too much math in the MBA program?!

I anticipated every scenario I could.

Out of all the “horreurs” i could imagine, being stuck at home for two months, locked in with my housemate and a dwindling supply of Nutella was not a part of the Paris Experience I’d signed up for!

For a lot of reasons though, these past 8 months have been unforgettable.

As a film major, my biggest worry was how would I adapt to an academic way of thinking.

Would my creativity driven right brain be able to make the adjustment to a methodical and analytical approach of getting things done?

Sometime into the 2nd month, I started enjoying the experience, even the Math! A call with my very shocked parents confirmed that this is rather uncharacteristic.

Today, I almost look forward to the morning 8am classes. Almost.

I have often wondered what caused this huge change in me as a person. While studying film, I studied the K-Pop culture: A statement from an expert I remember is that K-Pop is not just music, it’s the whole experience. The choreography, outfits, characterization. Well, an MBA is just like that. It’s not just about the books you read or the exams you write. It is the knowledge of the professors, the cafeteria conversations, the occasional meetups, and most importantly, the bonds you build.

An MBA, much like other worthy things in life, cannot be done in isolation. I made friends that I know will last a lifetime at IESEG. All my closest friends are from countries and cultures so far away from each other. But they all have one thing in common.

Kindness.

Apart from that my colleagues are also some of the smartest, most compassionate people that I have learnt more from than I would in multiple 8 hour lectures.

My housemate is like a sister and a comrade, flooded kitchens our battle ground.

We rely very much on our external environment, so when we are asked to cut off from that environment, it is hard.

Well, that’s the situation we are in right now. Honestly, I would rather wake up at 6:30 am to reach IESEG at 8, than wake up at 7:45 and see my colleagues online.

But these are strange times. What once seemed essential is now a privilege. Since we hear the words essential and non-essential thrown around all the time these days, I made a list of quarantine essentials we should be grateful for:

1. Family: Your family sitting in hotter zones, have been more worried for your well- being, and whether you have enough food. Go see them when this is all over!

2. Friends: For every homesick day, these people have heavily medicated you with zoom parties, Netflix nights, Instagram challenges and shared pasts.

3. Housemates/ Partners: If you are living with someone, this is a good time to mend cracks in the relationship, and heal as human beings together.

4. Healthcare workers: I mean, we would be pretty much scared to death if we didn’t hear of their hard work and success stories.

5. Delivery People: They take a great deal of risk to make sure you can keep yourself stocked up and alleviate you from going crazy.

6. Sanitation Workers: For the hard work they do, cleaning our surroundings, but also for the flowers that are blooming in every corner, giving us a new kind of hope.

7. Our Planet: The fish are back in the canals, dolphins are back. It is time to understand that we are the caretakers, not the owners

I am pretty sure that I have missed out on someone, but in general, this is a great time to count our blessings, and occasionally stop and smell the flowers. After all, for once we have all the time in the world!

Apoorva is an IMBA student and a film & TV producer from Mumbai. When she is not making films or traveling, she is dreaming of cuddling pandas.

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