Maintaining positivity during a pandemic

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Or so the saying goes.

In the case of today’s world, when life gives you a worldwide pandemic, we are faced with the opportunity to choose how to react to such unprecedented times. As a recent graduate of Georgetown’s class of 2020, I find myself reflecting on how these past few months filled with the unexpected move back to my childhood home turned out to be pretty good learning opportunities.

Some of my takeaways from COVID-19 have been:

Free time can be a good opportunity to learn something new!

I’ve been using my free time to read many of the books I’ve been adding to a list during my busy college years. Some interesting tech-related books I enriched myself in were Algorithms to Live By: The Computer Science of Human Decisions by Brian Christian, Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the new frontier of power by Shoshana Zuboff, AI Superpowers: China, Silicon Valley, and the New World Order by Kai-Fu Lee, The Innovators: How a group of hackers, geniuses and geeks created the digital revolution by Walter Isaacson, and Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy world by Cal Newport (Prof. Newport teaches Computer Science at Georgetown and I took his Algorithms course this past spring!).

It’s also been inspiring to hear about friends and relatives of mine who have used this time to learn coding. My younger sister is a rising junior in high school who began her coding journey when she, back in April, saw an advertisement to apply for a free virtual coding program. After having her summer plans of sports training cancelled, she used this opportunity to take part in a virtual two-week Girls who Code immersion camp. She learned the basics of HTML, CSS and JavaScript and found a way to creatively design a website where she shared pictures of her trendy sewing creations and favorite baking recipes.

There are tons of free resources and programs available online to get started in learning to code—be sure to check out the list of links I’ve included at the end of this post!

Digital Minimalism can also be good

You don’t have to completely live off the grid, but it is important to know when to shut your phone off. I’ve personally found myself struggling to stay sane with the 24/7 news cycle of constant headlines and have tried to limit my phone usage. I’ve found it helpful to receive morning news updates in my inbox to catch the main breaking news.

Things will be okay

Although the news of having fall semester be virtual again may be frustrating, this decision is the safest option. My advice to students is to get into an organized routine with online classes. Having a routine will help you stay motivated and successful with your courses. It’s also important to find ways to keep in touch with friends and family during these times, so that you have a support system.  All in all, we can choose to control how we react to adversity, and I think the first step in overcoming the challenges of this pandemic begins with an optimistic attitude. Hoya Saxa!

Helpful links: Here are some free resources for getting started with coding

Here are the references for the books I read and mentioned above:

Christian, Brian, and Tom Griffiths. Algorithms to Live by: the Computer Science of Human Decisions. Picador, 2017.

Isaacson, Walter. The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution. Large Print Press, a Part of Gale, Cengage Learning, 2015.

Lee, Kai-Fu. AI SUPERPOWERS: China, Silicon Valley, and the New World Order. MARINER Books, 2019.

Newport, Cal. Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World. Penguin Business, 2020.

Zuboff, Shoshana. The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: the Fight for a Human Future at the New.

Frontier of Power. PublicAffairs, 2020.

Kristina Lignell is a Georgetown graduate (Spring 2020) and a former co-lead of GU Women Coders.