An invisible enemy and a virtual (yet real) world

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Mr. Leo Victor Kim is an eighteen-year-old korean-brazilian first-year medical student in Campinas State University (UNICAMP), which is among the best medical courses in Brazil. He is affiliated with the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

Not being able to meet our friends, our distant family members, or our dearest grandparents; having to create accounts in video calling apps we’ve never heard of; having to wear masks and adhere to the exhaustively repeated – but necessary –  ‘social distancing’; knowing that luckily people our age didn’t have many consequences by the disease as older folks had. These were just a few of the thousands of things we, as youngsters, had to start doing to adapt to the so-called ‘New Normal’.

The invisible, small and lethal enemy stopped the world, but our lives had to go on: there wasn’t a pause button for this whole catastrophic movie scene with apocalyptic backdrop tones and ‘end-times’ refinements. Nor was there a single moment of certainty in the meantime, as everything had been extremely uncertain and there was no prospect of returning to face-to-face activities as we used to have in our pre-COVID-19 life. Now imagine all this for a young person, who has always heard that this would be ‘the best time in life’, a time of great benefit and enjoyment, to meet people, to get to know the world and to be able to live new experiences and also to live the peak of life which is youth. If there is a word that best defines this historical moment, it is frustration for the youth.

Allied to all this, let us think about the lost lives. I ask for a minute of silence please – although one minute is not enough given the weight of losing so many lives to this virus. We all have lost or know someone who has lost a loved one. A piece of themselves went away. The news of deaths and collapses in the world’s health systems sensitized us at first, but then we were hardened because if at first the thousand lives lost a day seemed absurd, when we reached death peaks more towards the middle of the pandemic waves, we became numb in the face of all these lives that have unfortunately gone away.  We forgot that behind a number there was a person; and behind a person, a family, and a whole circle of friends who certainly mourned for the life that was passing. And even grief was affected: the process of not going to the deceased’s funeral or ceremony made the process even more difficult. To this day we feel that these people are still with us!

Wrapping up, I conclude: with a year of adaptation, frustration and callousness, especially in the face of poorly elaborated mourning, the mental health of our young people was immeasurably affected. An entire generation has lost, albeit briefly, a part of what life would have been like before the pandemic. But even in the face of all this, we survived and we have this story that we carry with us and we are stronger than when we entered the pandemic – at least that’s what I believe.

About the author

Leo Victor Kim is an eighteen-year-old korean-brazilian first-year medical student in Campinas State University (UNICAMP), which is among the best medical courses in Brazil.

Although having great interests in medicine, he also believes that writing is one of the most beautiful Arts and for that reason tutors voluntarily pre-uni students to improve their writing skills in essays that are required for university entry. If there is one thing Leo strongly believes is that knowledge is the key to changing the World.

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