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Modernizing Systems



When I came back home to Lithuania, the coronavirus was not really a big deal. The coronavirus was sort of a thing that seemed very far away. That all changed one Friday during history class— my peers and I were just sitting and talking when all of a sudden, someone started screaming behind the door. Turns out that schools were closing down due to the coronavirus, including ours. Initially, everyone was really really happy because school was closing down. The coronavirus didn’t seem like a threat to us. There wasn’t any media coverage on it and it didn’t seem like a very big issue. It seemed so surreal because we didn’t expect the virus to drastically affect us whatsoever, as this was before all of the heavy news coverage on COVID-19. I don’t think anybody realized how big of an issue it would be in Lithuania. After the government announced the quarantine, they gave us two weeks of vacation and tried to modernize the entire healthcare system within that short time frame.

Distance learning was really challenging because a lot of our teachers didn’t know how to use the technology. It was just crazy how unproductive our learning became. It changed the way we looked at teachers and the way we looked at our way of life— especially after seeing hospitals getting overcrowded and realising that the whole Lithuanian system was not prepared for it.

It was scary, but Lithuania had one of the most strict lockdowns in Europe. We had rules such as no driving, but they were gone by the middle of June. Now, we can go outside freely. Due to our strict rules and regulations earlier on, we could get out of quarantine quicker and flatten the curve faster than some other countries. Because of our strict lockdown, we are not facing the consequences that other countries are facing now. At first, there was a lot of anger and uncertainty towards the lockdown, but now, people can go back to work and meet up with friends without having to wear a mask. All of the normal day-to-day activities of life have resumed with some extra safety precautions. I find it funny how some of these precautions were not in place before coronavirus, such as installing proper ventilation in closed spaces like libraries. Despite the devastating effects of the coronavirus, we’ve still implemented some really good changes from the extra precautions we’re taking.

It was hard for me to focus on my work and myself while everyone was stuck in their homes. Not being able to follow a routine was hard because I felt like a rigid routine was what held my mental health together— not being able to do regular things in an already stressful time just took a toll on how I viewed myself and others. Right now, although coronavirus is still a big thing in other places, in Lithuania, I have been able to resume every single one of my activities. Even so, I feel like continuing to wear a mask and being aware of my own wellbeing is a very beneficial thing for myself and the whole of society in general. I feel safer and others do, too.

—Vija



Written by: Tony He

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