Staying focused in the lab, taking it day by day

In a normal situation, many students are under a lot of pressure when finishing their degree project. Students in their final semester this year face an even tougher challenge due to restrictions following the spread of COVID-19. Master student Sara's best advice is to take it day by day and to stay busy.

Master´s student Sara in the lab at Bioclinicum.
Master´s student Sara in the lab at Bioclinicum. Photo: Private/Teodora Andonova

International biomedicine master’s student Sara Abu Ajamieh from Jordan/Sweden is in her fourth and final semester currently writing her degree project. I catch Sara through zoom after she spent the morning in the lab at Bioclinicum. Like many students she is not attending any physical lectures, but she still must go to the lab to be able to finish her degree project, and to be able to graduate on time.

How has the new restrictions following the new coronavirus outbreak affected your current studies?

­– In our lab, we are taking many precautions: We work in different shifts and when you can do tasks from home you are encouraged to do so. We were afraid that they would stop our courses. But it is a great thing that they still want us to graduate on time. I think KI has taken good measurements. Although I would have wished to get instructions earlier then I think students would have been more prepared.

What does a normal day look like for you today?

– Before the restrictions following COVID-19, everything was more comfortable. We did not think about time schedules or what would happen in the future. Now we need to think more about the other people in the lab and try to avoid interaction in line with social distancing.

How do you keep yourself motivated right now?

– There are days where I am not motivated to continue my project… but that could happen in a normal situation when you do not get enough results. But I feel like I need to keep a positive mindset so I can move forward with the project. I try to keep up the motivation both at home for my siblings, because I am the oldest, and at the same time be more productive in the lab by coming up with new ideas.

Any advice to other students?

– I would really recommend people to take it day by day and to keep busy. You can do home workouts, try new recipes or taking a walk in the forest.

Parts of your family live in Saudi Arabia, how is it not being together right now?

– It is difficult, but as two of my siblings are living here in Stockholm with me, I am in a much better situation than many other students. We also keep in touch with video call, through Skype or Facetime. But of course, I miss my parents and other siblings. I hope they can come visit when the situation calms down.

On behalf of the National Board of Health and Welfare, Karolinska Institutet has prepared two e-learning courses on COVID-19 for health care staff. Recently these courses were translated into English, Persian, Russian and Arabic. Since Sara speaks Arabic, she was asked to help assure the quality of the Arabic translation.

How was it to help out with the COVID-19 e-learning courses?

– The job was interesting. I am happy that I could help because it’s very important to have this knowledge shared among people with different backgrounds.