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CAMPUS IN THE TIME OF CORONA

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Metu ncc during the corona

What is quarantine?

In layman’s terms, times have changed you know, quarantine can be described as a confining order which stops the movement and flow of people, goods and objects from one place to another to prevent the spread of a viral disease. However, this definition only applies to baby boomers.

For us youngsters lying in the bracket of Millenials and Generation Z, quarantine refers to those glossy, poppy and glittering stickers that we can get on Instagram and post on our stories, posts. We can also use it as a symbol of toughness, cool composure and just having something to fill the empty corner in our Instagram story.

I might not make it through this COVID-19 epidemic, which is why I will take my chances at pointing fingers and being incessantly blunt. Sorry millennials. You won’t get your hands on me even if you disagree with me. Hah!

Social Distancing? When did it start on the campus?

In light of the recent virus pandemic, Corona virus strain 19 or in short, COVID-19. Our campus has encouraged the students to practice social distancing. The residents of the campus must maintain safe and secure distance, 2 meters or more when they engage each other in particular locations like shops, cafeterias, and grocery stores.

They must avoid shaking hands, hugging, kissing ( Well! This one’s not going to be a problem for me anyways). They should also not touch surfaces that have been exposed to human contact.

Campus Decisions:

The campus management suspended the physical classes and all activities that required physical attendance of the participants after the first week of March. This marked an exodus of students to fly away to their families in Turkey.

Shortly after this, there was the order from the President to practice strict policies like staying in dormitory rooms and going out only when necessary for purchasing essentials like groceries from Lemar.

This is something that the campus management has not dealt with in the past which makes it even harder and mentally harrowing for the campus residents to continue life as normally as possible.

Due to the startling nature of this catastrophe, it is only normal for disagreements to occur between the students and campus management. However, the officials have been extremely very considerate and responsive to the plights of the students and have reacted to the best of their capabilities.

The Good Old Times:

Although there has not been a critical emergency to have been reported. It is without any doubt that the students, teachers and the managerial staff are indeed in distress and miss the times when things were normal. Even the adorable campus pups look at the scarce humans with those loyal, forlorn puppy eyes.

The same goes for the fluffy kittens of the campus as well who can’t execute their evil plots on “hoomans” and conspire against dogs as much as before. Although, I am sure that Mr. Meow will be having a strategic meeting to raise the flag of war on dogs as soon as things get back to normal. Aargh! Those little demons! I love them. Do you?

Mr. Meow relaxing on the rug after a hectic strategic session of pure evil with his miscreants.

So let’s take you all on a virtual tour around the main places of the campus for you to see how this horrible virus has affected our lovely campus.

METU Square:

Event announcements, ticket sales, promotions, food sales, catching up after a hard day of lectures, chatting with friends or sitting in the shade of trees: METU NCC Square. This place used to be the heart of the campus.

Not only because it almost lies a the center of the campus but also because it is the home ground for all the central sports and locations ideal for students like the Lemar, the Campus Store, Deniz Plaza, the Cafeteria, the Patisserie and the Gaming Zone above it. All the routes to the lecture buildings, the engineering labs, the School of Foreign Languages, the Library, the IT Building, and the Registrar’s Office passed from here as well.

Once the life and soul of the place always teeming with people scurrying from one place to another like busy bees, the proximity filled with music as student clubs used to campaign for their activities, this place is the literal depiction of a ghost town. Desolated and vacant as they come. There is not even a single person to be seen because there aren’t any classes. The only things to be seen are dead leaves rustling away on the hard gravel with the wind.

The  Bus Stop:

“Agabeycim Kart yoksaaa… Gecemezsin!”. This is what the bus driver used to say to me whenever I forgot my bus card in my room. The METU NCC Bus Stop was a place where the adventure started for the students.

Go to the bus stop, catch the bus to Guzelyurt, buy a ticket from the transportation companies over there and head out to Kyrenia, Nicosia or Famagusta. This is what the itinerary generally looked like when the buses ran on schedule.

We all have experienced that provocative feeling of excitement when we used to be the first ones at the bus stop before the next bus came. That was a promise that we could get the best seat , which of course is the one right behind the driver’s seat.

I mean the privacy, the legroom, the exclusive privilege of getting a full window view and being the first one to refuse to swipe the bus card for another student. These are some of the exclusive perks especially attributed to this seat. Call it the business class seat if you may, ladies and gentlemen. You might disagree with this but sue me, it’s my blog so I am not changing it.

But nowadays, this place is as empty as my wallet. I mean no disrespect, wallet but this is as real as it gets. The virus has coerced the campus management to stop the bus services in a bet to contain the virus.

Due to this, there are no campus ring vehicles, taxis, Kibhas shuttles go to and from this place. Bus stops usually have an aura of life, hustle, and bustle around them but right now, our bus stop seems vacant and out of life.

Ozzy The Pup:

WOOF! Hey, you there!  It’s me, Ozzy, Muhammad has taken a short respite from this writing madness and in the meantime, let me fill you in on the most important issues on the campus. WOOF!

Where did my buddies go? I promise I never laid a paw on that cat although he still keeps nicking the nibbles from my tray. I am a good dog. WOOF! The campus is so much lonely. There is no one around. I used to trot after students and keep them company. (*Puppy yelps)

The dog shelter is running out of food and I get very sad at times because there is no one to pat my head, scratch my tummy ( AND I AM NOT FAT, WOOF!) or treat me with a nice juicy bone to chew on.  I used to sprint with Tayyab when he was running on weekends and used to scare him by darting after him when he wasn’t expecting it. ( I KNEW IT WAS YOU OZZY! NAUGHTY DOG!)

Where did everybody go?

I have poked my long nose in every place on the campus like it’s my business, but nothing is happening, no one is in the cafeterias, coffee shops, library, and the classrooms.  I can’t even act like I own the place and sneak into the library and mark my turf ( the sofas, the tables, the chairs, the floor). So basically everything.

With everybody gone, the METU NCC Animal Welfare club has limited access to funds and summers are coming too, summers mean warm weather and ticks. I and the other dogs need medications to stay healthy too, you know. Oh boy, I am gonna scratch myself so much! What am I going to do? WOOF!

So, I have decided to lie down in front of the Second Dormitory and I refuse to move unless you guys head out and give me a few minutes and play with me. The only things that I do all day are chasing my tail and find the best corners on the campus to get it done. While you are at it, bring along a few doggy treats for me and feed me.

WAIT! Was that a squirrel or a rabbit? Or maybe a cat? Oh boy, my impulses are in action again and oh here we go…WOOF!

The Library:

Knowledge is power. Do you know who said this? No? Me too. Ha ha. Anyways, the point is that an incandescent academic institution like METU NCC is incomplete without a well-managed library. Our library boasts of a proper system of circulation, book-marking, issue policies and subscriptions to reputable volumes, research papers, magazines, novels and stories.

Thankfully, METU NCC’s Library has them all. What it doesn’t have nowadays are the occupants to give it the look and feel. The library hours have been greatly reduced and it is nearly empty because most of the students are gone or either prefer to stay in their dormitory rooms.

Once always densely populated with students struggling to prepare for their exams and work . This place lacks even a single soul nowadays.

Students say that they truly miss this place as this was the only place where they felt comfortable studying or do other study work but now, they can’t spend as much time.  Even though it was silent before as well, it wasn’t at least haunted like it is right now.

The Cafeteria:

When the clock struck 12.30. It was an unspoken cue for the students to rush towards the Main Cafeteria which provided a variety of foods to curb their hunger after hours of lecturing .

The Wi-Fi jammers in this place were a cause of agony and frustration for some but for others, it was a chance to talk to their friends, colleagues, and peers in person and pry their eyes away from their phone screens.

The long wait in the queue before you finally entered swiped the food coupon on the barcode scanner and entering the serving area. After getting our tray of food, scanning the whole room to find an empty spot to sit and enjoy the lunch and then hurry off again to lectures. Whew! The good old days.

Ever since the campus has implemented strict precautions against the virus, this place has become empty with only a few people dropping by occasionally, eating quickly and leaving fast.

Students miss coming to this place and catching up with their friends. Gossiping and discussing political, socio- economic affairs, ongoing business trends, breakthroughs in science along with constructive debates on how to tackle the climate crisis was the talk of the town in this place.

Well, excuse me and pardon me for lying so heavily! We all know the number of gossips, small talks, and slanders that were passed between students including myself. Well, someone had to let the cat out of the bag sometime, I mean.

How are the students coping with this?

I order to find out how the METU NCC students were grappling with the strict regime being practiced on campus and what they missed. Now I will hand over the pen to my very sexy, brilliant and smart researcher, Tayyab. Please go ahead, Mr. Tayyab.

Mr. Tayyab: Well, thank you very much. So, I contacted some of the students on campus and requested them to share their thoughts on how life was for them these days. I was able to gather valuable feedback from them.

Interviewee 01

Princeton Udochukwu, a senior from the Chemical Engineering Department says, “Now living on the campus is somewhat boring. I never knew I’d have more contact hours with my bed. Oh, thanks for this virus! I miss the energy on campus. What more? Friends? The energy in the IT? Lovely nights at Kalkanli? Hele-hele durum? Good heavens! Watching movies and writing poems is actually what is keeping me busy and sane.”

I am torn to hear that the students have lost all the vibrant things and have been confined to their rooms. But it’s amazing to see them tackling this situation like mature adults and focusing on being creative. Well, we all want to hear your idyllic poems after this ends, Mr. Princeton. So, start learning the verses from right now. We are waiting.

Interviewee 02:

There have been cases where the students running small side businesses have been using all this free time to strategize.

M Umar Khan, an Economics Major with a Minors in Information System, graduating in 2021, reported. “I am certainly enjoying it and have got back to reading books, giving time to my startup enterprise, embarking on new ventures. Everything is online now. I am missing offering my prayers in the mosque . It feels like I am missing out on my spirituality. I also miss the physical interaction with the teachers and my friends in class. I certainly miss working out in the gym, playing squash, tennis and my morning jogs.”

Nice to hear that our youth has been doing something productive to build their careers with all this time. I hope all of you are being as productive as Umar.

On a personal note…

I miss the gym and my athletic routines extremely very much. I miss attending my Marketing and some other business lessons . The crave for the knowledge, witty jokes and comments exchanged in my classes through interaction. I miss seeing the first year students bolting between their classes and feeling wise like Gandalf.

Take Care of Yourself!

But on a serious note, there are very troublesome times and we should all practice extreme caution. Take extra care to protect yourselves. Our own lives and of those we love come before anything else.

Cover your mouth while coughing or sneezing, wash your hands frequently, disinfect places that are used a lot, take care of your diet and do some light exercise daily. Keep yourself busy and try to get work done. Keep in touch with your friends, family and loved ones.

Frequently contact the campus professors, conveying your best wishes and remind them to stay safe and take care. We, as a METU community knit tightly by strong human values will get out of this together!

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