July 08-- The coronavirus has wreaked havoc across the world. People are dying, plans are ruined and livelihoods are threatened. The youth are among those affected, and we are facing some tough changes to our ways of living and studying.
On March 15, the first few cases of the coronavirus were discovered in South Africa and a national state of disaster was announced. After cases started rapidly increasing, the government took action and implemented a nationwide lockdown on March 26. Most person-to-person interactions were banned and all nonessential businesses and services were shut down.
In addition to the pandemic's health issues, the economy was strained and many people lost their sources of income. The government took measures such as a relief grant for the unemployed and temporary housing for the homeless. Although I was concerned about the potential health and safety risks of the shared temporary housing, I was pleased by the swiftness with which the government acted. In the name of reducing health risks, alcohol and tobacco sales were banned completely. I did not agree with this decision because the country lost billions in important tax revenue. I also felt as if the ban was ineffective, as citizens simply resorted to buying substances from the black market.
In my city of Cape Town, strict regulations with regards to physical distancing were implemented. Shops had restrictions on the number of people allowed inside simultaneously, non-contact deliveries were enforced and it became mandatory to wear your mask in public. I found it quite anti-social and depressing at times. I missed the days where you could have a free conversation with people you met going shopping or just openly interacting with the public. All multi-person gatherings were also banned, and this was disappointing as a college freshman eager to socialize. Although these regulations were quite stringent, Cape Town remains, unfortunately, the city with the most coronavirus cases in Africa.
After the lockdown was implemented, my college courses moved to being fully online. I liked that I could easily access the learning material at my own time and pace and that I was able to have my notes with me whenever I needed them. Despite this advantage, online learning proved to be a disaster.
Only certain modules are fitting to be hosted online. Some of my modules, such as engineering maths and engineering drawing, do not fare well online and the absence of physical interaction made completing these subjects all the more difficult. The difficulty was exacerbated by the fact that I could not have my lecturers or fellow students assisting me with hands-on topics.
The online assessments also proved to be a pain. For calculation questions, I could usually get at least half of the marks for a certain question if I showed my working out and it made sense. The online learning system negatively affected my grades in this sense, because if a final answer for a question that required calculations was wrong, I lost all the marks allocated to that question.
If there's one thing this pandemic saga has taught me, it's that we should always appreciate life, especially for the smaller things that we often take for granted.
I have had a great deal of personal growth during this time. Being stuck inside during lockdown has forced me to confront my thoughts and explore my deeper self. I have realized that although I am an extrovert, I am quite reserved and independent, and I can actually get a lot done with the absence of social distractions. This situation has also opened my eyes to the things going on in the world. I have learned a great deal about how people behave and how the world operates. I have also become emotionally mature and realized that it is vital to focus on the most important things in life, such as family and close relationships. Your loved ones can be snatched from your life at any moment.
Once this pandemic has come and gone, some lives will have been lost, others will have been ruined, and South Africa's current 30% unemployment rate will likely increase even more. Although the future is uncertain, I hope that my life can eventually get to some level of normality. If and when it's all over and the smoke has cleared, I plan to come out stronger.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Anesu Jahura is an iGeneration Youth reporter living in Cape Town, South Africa. Read more stories at igenerationyouth.com
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