And… here we go again.

August 17, 15:03, 206-115. The news dropped. Delta emerging, lockdown imposing, hug your mates and say goodbyes, online lectures await. I expected a lockdown for a while back then, but just like assignment deadlines, it hits you the hardest when its in your face.

And now, Auckland’s broke its own lockdown record.

For what its worth, this lockdown happened at a particularly inopportune time. Mech has just kicked off our testing season the day prior, and I was going to start having labs in the weeks that follow. The latter was especially unfortunate, since it was hyped up as a chance to actually looking at some of the stuff we were learning. The replacement was, of course, online labs. These, sadly, consisted of mostly watching videos, analyse provided data, and write reports. Basically the same thing I’m already doing for non-lab assessments. Afterwards, my disappointment was comparable to those No Man’s Sky‘s release. While it is understandable as a matter of safety, it does feel… underwhelming… at most.

As online delivery continues, my degree is starting to feel more and more like an empty shell. I enjoyed Mech greatly with my time collaborating with my project groups, but now its becoming a my biggest downfall. Sure, there is still a sense of pride and achievement with doing calculations alone at night, or having my CAD keeping me company. However, I’ve found that I work better when I’m with others, as it’s way too easy lose track of time when working alone. But, this has not exactly been easy to achieve in lockdown. Sure, I can have my study group on a side display and still chatting as usual, but seeing people in tiny pixels feel distorted some times. Plus, it is very difficult to discuss ideas for group projects, especially anything maths and diagram heavy. In any case, the feeling of “busy yet not making progress” has more or less permeated in the last five weeks.

Of course, this feeling of emptiness may have been exasperated by a very… close… encounter. Remember the time and location I mentioned above? Well, a keen eyed reader such as yourself may realise that it would have marked myself as a close contact. And… a close contact I was. The 14-day self isolation wasn’t exactly fun, especially when it overlapped with the test season. Still, it made me feel unproductive thanks to the lack of a study group. The test that caused the biggest (metaphorical) headache, though, was undoubtedly the Covid one. For some reason, the testing place where I took my first swab had a software issue, where the “your result was negative” text failed to send for a particular batch. For five working days I sat in agony, pondering what’s taking them so long to process. Thoughts of Covid creeped up my head every day, even during study times. There were times when I genuinely didn’t feel like doing work for the whole day, as my mind leapt from one off-topic thing to another. I even scared my project group once when I got a phone call in the middle of a meeting. It was just a contact tracer “checking on my wellbeing”, fortunately, rather the different kind of health workers. Eventually, of course, I got back my negative after making some return calls. As to how much this time affected my Mech study, though, has been difficult to say. Seeing, strangely, after two weeks of feeling down, my grades didn’t suffer as much as predicted.

Still not recommended.

On the plus side, this lockdown has been a unique opportunity to try out a different lifestyle. It has been an interesting learning experience in finding out how to balance work & life, as well as staying motivated. Forcing myself to take regular breaks has been my biggest challenge, as I’ve discovered, but it also yielded the biggest reward. There have been too many times when I either dive into work for many hours unending, or inversely taking a break too long without realise the day has passed. The former caused me to dream maths in my sleep (nightmarish!), while the latter made me late on schedule (equally nightmarish!). For resolving this issue, forcing myself into a, for example, 15-min walk after 45-min of desk study, has been offering a peace of mind similar to pre-lockdown. While it couldn’t beat hanging out at the uni, I’m not gonna complain if it works.

In any case, apologise a unusually large gap in posting for anyone who’s followed this blog this far. As Auckland leaves Level-4 at 11:59 tonight, who knows how this would change my study from now onwards. I hope this post gave you a glimpse into how I felt over this lockdown, albeit it may not be representative of the general Mech populace. For those in Auckland, a pre-emptive happy Level-3 for you. I know I’ll be feasting upon multiple Big Macs tomorrow morning 😜.



Footnote on Thumbnail:

I was gonna planning on taking a selfie with lab equipments. Sadly there was no lab, so enjoy a picture I took in lockdown instead 🙂.

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