Pandemic weighs on Turkish students’ mental health

Anadolu Agency (AA) spoke with college students in Istanbul to get a sense of how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected their lives, what it taught, brought or took away, as well as what they missed the most.

Merve Evcili learned how to use her spare time during the pandemic.

“For me, the pandemic brought a lot of knowledge and skills that I had put off learning too many times as I thought they were unattainable in daily life’s rush,” said the 28-year-old student at Doğuş University’s Electronics and Communications Engineering Department.

“It also took away my relationships with my loved ones, as well as many motivational sources for me with all these restrictions and measures,” she said.

She said she misses doing things without a mask, restrictions, time limits or fear of contracting the virus and acknowledged that she is tired of being “in prison” at home as the weather gets warmer every day.

Evcili complained about teachers not understanding students “under the circumstances” of the pandemic.

‘Pandemic took away my best university years’

For 23-year-old Beyza Safiye Topçu, the coronavirus taught her that “not everything in life goes as we have planned or imagined.”

“I learned from the pandemic that we can always face all kinds of problems, and we always have to be prepared for them as much as we can,” said Topcu, who is in her final year in Doğuş University’s Industrial Engineering program.

“It also took away my best university years from me,” she said while lamenting that during this difficult period, she misses going out the way she would like and feeling comfortable.

“I am sick of always being at home and not being able to socialize,” Topçu added.

‘I lost both my psychological and physical health’

“Staying home for a long time and being able to motive herself” was a skill Elif Yağcı gained during the pandemic.

But that came with a huge mental and physical toll. “I have lost both my psychological and physical health during this period,” Yağcı said, who studies Industrial Engineering at Yeditepe University.

She longs to travel and spend time with friends without restrictions.

But Yağcı, 23, said she is also tired of school. Not because of the work, per se, but “because of the remote education, teachers are forcing us to (do) a degree that we can no longer bear with courses.”

She described the workload as “torture.”

COVID-19 in Turkey

Turkey has witnessed its highest number of cases every day for the last two weeks.

The nation’s overall case tally is now more than 4.12 million, while the nationwide death toll stands at 35,608.

The number of recoveries surpassed 3.64 million on Saturday.

The latest figures show there are now 3,240 patients in critical condition.

Since its mass immunization drive began on Jan. 14, Turkey has administered more than 19.96 million COVID-19 vaccine shots.

More than 12.17 million people have received their first dose of the vaccine, while an excess of 7.78 million have completed a two-dose course, according to official figures.

Starting April 14, special measures were put in place for the first two weeks of the holy Islamic month of Ramadan.

Weekday curfew now lasts from 7 p.m. – moved forward from 9 p.m. – to 5 a.m., during which intercity travel will also be banned, except for emergencies. Weekend curfews will also continue in high-risk cities.

Cafes and restaurants will only provide delivery and takeout services, while wedding halls, sports centers and game halls will remain closed until the end of Ramadan.

Since December 2019, the pandemic has claimed more than 3 million lives in 192 countries and regions.

Nearly 140.3 million cases have been reported worldwide, with recoveries at now more than 79.95 million, according to figures compiled by United States-based Johns Hopkins University.