Asthma UK Centre for Applied Research

Bohee Lee - My pandemic experience

Bohee discusses her experience of working through a PhD during the pandemic

Bohee Lee is a second-year PhD student at the Centre and tells us about her difficulties in living away from her family during the pandemic. Watch her video and read her interview.

Video: Bohee Lee - My pandemic experience
Bohee Lee discusses her experience studying through the pandemic
Headshot of Bohee Lee

How have you managed your time during the pandemic?

Since the PhD Induction event in Swansea that was held in February 2020, I couldn’t imagine that the UK would be impacted so dramatically by this novel coronavirus. It was a bit frustrating when I was asked to work from home as my flat was not ready for it (no desk, no chair, no printer etc.) and it was a big and sudden change to my daily life. There were several points in 2020 when I experienced mental fatigue and uncertainty due to loneliness and the prolonged lockdown. So, I contacted some people in the Centre as well as my supervisors and asked for some advice, and they gave me heartwarming messages with the energy to stand up straight again. Since then, I have been able to adjust myself to proceed with my PhD. Also, I tried to keep myself busy by reading books, papers and volunteering for some other projects, and I have endeavoured to go out for walks regularly- ideally once a day, in order to get a break from my work, clear my head, and renew my energy. Thankfully, due to many events etc. becoming available online, I was able to join various training, conferences and extracurricular activities, and meet some of my peers, which has helped me overcome some of the setbacks this pandemic has caused.

Have you had to change your PhD significantly?

Thankfully my PhD wasn’t significantly impacted by COVID-19. There were small bits and pieces that needed to be compromised, like changing face-to-face meetings to online meetings. Currently, we are preparing consensus group meetings with parents and health professionals; hopefully, this can proceed safely and smoothly.

What would you have done differently if we hadn’t had the pandemic?

If we hadn’t had the pandemic, I would have had more chances to meet with more academics and clinicians in-person. Also, I would have been able to attend clinics to observe counselling and patient experiences first hand. However, I don’t think these experiences would have changed the project or motivation, but they would have been invaluable.

Have you found any benefit in the online connections for students in the Centre?

Online connections allowed me to overcome time and location constraints, which enabled me to attend events or maintain social connections that otherwise would not have been possible or practical. Without online connections, we would not have had the monthly research seminars or the journal club on a regular basis. Sometimes I felt overwhelmed by the enormous amount of information or knowledge existing in online connections, but generally, I have really enjoyed utilising this online networking.

What have you learned from this experience?

I found people in the Centre, from students to professors, to be so amazing. They are easy-going, kind, humorous and cheerful. The university culture back home (in South Korea) was very different to the one here, so it was sometimes very difficult, in the beginning, to adapt myself to expand/maintain relationships; especially with supervisors and other researchers or within PhD programmes. I still remember that I used to have a restless night’s sleep before meetings. However, my supervisors and the people in the Centre always smiled brightly, kept it positive, and drew my inner motivation out in an effective way. Along with improving my skills as a researcher, these experiences have helped me grow as a person and developed my interpersonal skills.

See Bohee's PhD Profile