Had anyone told us two years ago, shortly before the outbreak of the pandemic, that we would all be running a global pandemic marathon, we probably would have told them to have their state of mind checked.
But before we knew it, we all embarked on a long and exhausting marathon that required us to constantly adjust to changing conditions. Right at the start there came a steep hill (lockdowns, insecurity about what was happening), which was followed by a slight downhill run in the summer of 2020. Which immediately was followed by an incline that turned to becoming a long and steep hill in the winter 2020. Spring 2021, we all had our hopes up that there was no more mountain coming our way and summer 2021 promised that. But once again in Fall of 2021, we were slowly going uphill again and before we knew it, the hill became another psychological mountain that we have cross to finish this marathon.
The constant psychological ups and downs all of us consciously and unconsciously have been exposed to is no easy feat to deal with. Not to forget the tiny demon, that has been sitting on all our shoulders, whispering into our ears the fear of getting COVID, worries about our loved ones, the names of those that died of COVID, the implication of the vaccination, or the impact on our economies.
As in running a marathon, we must always look forward, ignore the current pains, and never lose sight in our mind of finishing the marathon regardless of how long this might take.
The challenging part is that under the duress we have been exposed to, looking forward is sometimes not that easy. In simple terms, the wiring of our brain is challenged to imagine what it feels like sitting in the sun when it has rained cats and dogs for three days in a row.
Judging by the current developments, the UK, the Netherlands, and Denmark are already loosening or even completely lifting their Corona restrictions. It is very probable to say that we are on the final stretch of this marathon.
Now the final stretch is the one, where we are the most exhausted. So it is of outmost importance that we stay cool, calm, and start visualising in our minds what it will be like and feel like when we have crossed the finishing line of this @#$%&! marathon.
For me, one of the things I look forward to the most, is that we can finally have a real-life graduation ceremony for all the students that managed to finish their studies under these conditions. Students that were locked up in their student apartments for weeks and months, students that had to attend most of their studies online as they could not leave their home country, and all of them having to focus on their studies in this time of uncertainty. An achievement they can all be very proud of.
It fills me with much pride that many of our students were able to master their individual academic marathon under these conditions, and I look very much forward to celebrating them and this extraordinary achievement together with their families, our faculty, and the Friends of New European College.
For all of you that need a bit of sunlight during the final phase of this marathon, make sure to check out our Video Commencement Ceremony 2019 and Pictures Commencement Ceremony 2019. I am sure it will give you the final push to get through this marathon.