After his first ‘diary-style’ blog as a medical student, Yohan Irani from India, who is studying at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, recounts how communities in and outside college helped make student life manageable during the pandemic. He is full of praise for the efforts of his college, too.  And grateful for the Christmas gifts! 

(note: this was written when Ireland was in Level 5 Lockdown in the early months of 2021)

The coronavirus pandemic took the world by surprise and caused many changes in the educational system which led to the need to implement new rules and regulations with a goal to ensure health and safety through strict adherence to recommended public health guidelines in Dublin and throughout Ireland.  

Moving home – and online

In March 2020, when the cases of COVID-19 increased, RCSI advised international students to return home. We continued online classes followed by exams in the months from March to May. With all the necessary precautions in place, our college decided to start the new academic year in September 2020. The college elected for a hybrid approach which included a mix of online and in-person lectures with online exams. This allowed us to progress academically with little impact and disruption. Fantastic!  

Online learning became the norm. And eventually we adjusted. (photo: Shutterstock)


Connecting in new ways

Student life during the pandemic took a new form. It saw the emergence of various online activities and events as large gatherings were still not allowed. At RCSI, clubs and societies held presentations for new first-year students to provide more information before they decided to join the different societies. This ensured that students still had a means to connect and meet with others virtually while participating in quizzes and other online events. 

The RCSI in Dublin – home from home


Welcome break – and gifts!

During our Christmas vacation, our college encouraged us to stay back in Dublin for safety reasons. During this period, the lockdown was lifted for a few weeks which allowed for some recreational activities like eating out and meeting friends. In a much appreciated and generous gesture, the college arranged for Christmas stockings, filled with snacks and goodies, to be distributed to students. A Christmas food service was also arranged where RCSI students could pick up food for Christmas. 

Overall, colleges in Ireland have made great efforts to ensure the safety, health and general well-being of students which has resulted in making student life manageable under these unprecedented circumstances. All the same, we can’t wait for things to return to normal – whatever that looks like!