Hard times

Mihai Sularea


I am living in history, the kind history that will be written about and wondered about; and I wonder now, what will I tell my grandchildren about what life in the pandemic of 2020 was really like?

Since childhood, as with many other kids, I harbored a sense of asking myself how and why certain phenomena happen. Growing up, this interest had been translated into a passion for science and biology. And following this passion, after five years of college in Rome, I find myself thrown in a foreign country—into a total new reality which, so far, is teaching me enormously a new approach to life.

Thinking about this moment in history and my role as a young researcher, it is impossible not to think about my future career, plans and priorities during these hard times. Moreover, it is difficult not to feel a sense of uselessness given that I know, if only in a small way, I could be contributing to the research on COVID-19.

Frustration grew quickly; I was not able to keep working on my project as everything was, literally, frozen. I pretended to work from home, conscious that my efficiency is way lower than before.

So far, as new PhD student in a foreign country, it’s hard to say conclusively how I feel about the situation; on the one hand it has provided opportunity for reflection on future plans and priorities, to reaffirm my forthcoming goals. On the other, there is an intense feeling of loneliness, inadequacy and futility. For all of these, having a daily routine and keeping in touch with relatives and friends, is important. It improves my mood, gives me solace.

I hope I don’t have to tell my grandchildren we neglected the lesson this pandemic is teaching us daily, from respecting the rules to being aware of our actions and their consequences. I hope I will be able to tell them that in this hard time, that humankind realized the importance of research for its survival, development and prosperity.

Mihai Sulara is an Italian PhD based in Ireland