The Class 2020, The Class of COVID-19

When I was preparing for my high school final exams in my room four years ago, I had never imagined that I would be sitting in the same spot when taking my final exams at university or even when presenting my master’s thesis.

And yet, this is exactly what happened. Similarly to everyone else, my plans just straight off vanished into thin air and everything changed during one single week in March. While the Czech government was closing schools and even borders soon after, I was following the worsening and perplexing situation in the UK and London in particular, with some fear installed in me whilst commuting to university on the tube every day. The news that someone from university would test positive for COVID-19 was inevitable, and then it happened. On one Thursday evening, we received the information that a student tested positive. Then on Friday, all face to face teaching was suspended till the end of the academic year and everything, including lectures as well as the planned exams, was moved online. The very same day, I booked my flight back to the Czech Republic, and two days later I arrived in Prague ready to quarantine for the next 14 days. I was very lucky to leave the UK when I did as most of the regular flights were terminated for an indefinite period during the following week. On top of that, a few days later, the university also released an official statement that all the graduation ceremonies, including mine in mid-September, are cancelled. Even though one understands the decision in the context of the word-wide pandemic, I couldn’t help myself to feel very disappointed.

The fourteen days long quarantine was spent in spirt of making all the finishing touches to the master’s thesis and planning all the revision for the final exams whose date and format was one big unknown at that time. In the end, the longest ever and at the same time my very last exam season at UCL started at the beginning of May, and ended up just a few days ago, at the end of June. The ultimate piece of the puzzle was the master’s project presentation during the last week of June. This was the end of one chapter of my life with three years spent in London and one year in Singapore, and I have officially become a part of the “The Class 2020, The Class of COVID-19”.

Now, the holidays are finally ahead. I am planning to spend time with my family and friends, rest, and reflect on my time at UCL. In August, I am heading back to London to start another exciting chapter of my life. After summer, I am starting my PhD in particle physics at Imperial College London doing experimental research in Fermilab, the U.S. national laboratory, and at T2K experiment in Japan. Since my last post, I have managed to secure the Imperial President’s Scholarship, an extremely competitive scheme awarded to only several candidates per year, in place of the usual studentship provided by the government. To say that I was extremely happy and also surprised to receive this award would be an understatement. 

Because my undergraduate studies have indeed reached their end, I would like to wholeheartedly thank The Kellner Family Foundation without whose support the realization of my studies at UCL would be impossible. Finally, I would like to thank my parents for their unconditional support and for always being there for me. Thank you.

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