Much like a boat isolated from the mainland because of an outbreak of cholera, as the book would tell, the first few weeks of the year have seen Covid-19 take its toll. The current Covid wave in Switzerland is affecting life at IMD.
Despite the widespread testing done on campus, many of our classmates had already tested positive before the opening day. This meant that they could not experience the integration activities in person and had to attend classes via Zoom. At the peak of cases on campus, face-to-face classes were suspended, and activities were postponed or moved to Zoom.
It has been a trying couple of weeks for our cohort. While the general theme of resilience and community is evident on campus, it can blind us from seeing the impact that quarantine and isolation have on individual students.
The individual side of the pandemic
This is the story of Fardeen. Fardeen is my neighbor and, like many in our class, he tested positive on the first day on campus.
He went into quarantine and was confined to his apartment until his first face-to-face activity last Monday. While the support from his peers and from IMD was strong, nonetheless he felt a bit as if he was on the outside looking in. IMD is made to be an intimate learning experience and quarantine forces you to give up that intimacy.
It’s especially hard as the first few weeks feel like the best time to make first impressions and get to know your colleagues. Fear of missing out sets in. You see the Instagram and LinkedIn posts and there are days with nothing to do. For a lot of people this is compounded by the size of their apartments. Everyone believed they would spend most of their time at campus, so it was better to rent a small apartment. Yet, quarantine turns that plan upside-down.
The MBA class and staff come together
Luckily, support groups popped up in social media, and within each building. Even though we were physically apart, our sense of community grew. We created WhatsApp groups to help each other out. We delivered groceries to everyone in quarantine and help was forthcoming from all the people in the IMD ecosystem.
Thankfully, none of our classmates had more than mild symptoms. And while the restrictions were strict, the IMD community was stronger than the situation. We realized that we could still be there for each other – even if only virtually.
And now, after the required number of days in quarantine, most people have started to return to campus. For many, it’s their first day all over again. They may not know the names of the buildings. But they can recognize their classmates and the MBA staff that helped them during these difficult times.