Finding Ways to Unwind During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Online Hobbies

Finding Ways to Unwind During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Online Hobbies

June 01, 2022

By Patricia Therese de Claro, UPCM Class 2024

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about countless changes in the way UPCM students currently live, such as abiding to safety protocols when going out and taking the majority of their classes online. One of the aspects of life affected by the pandemic is the way we relax and unwind. Events like Palarong Medisina and Tao Rin Pala, both most revered and awaited by UPCM students, were moved to an online setting.

However, in light of these changes, UPCM students are now, more than ever, in tune with their passions. They have found creative ways to cope and channel their energy into extracurricular activities that excite their hearts and minds. These hobbies include immersing in online games—now the focus of Palarong Medisina, pursuing content creation, and managing an online business. Here, students share their journey and insights on the hobbies they have developed during the pandemic.

Online Gaming

Many of the college’s online gamers actually started playing before the pandemic. For Gabrielle Rose “Gwen” Pimentel of UPCM Class 2024, popular video games like PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, Call of Duty Mobile, and Rules of Survival were introduced to her in Learning Unit I. Similarly, for Mohammad Sarifola “Jayr” Alonto, Jr from UPCM Class 2024, Mobile Legends, amongst other online games, has been in his radar since grade school; he has been playing regularly since 2017. Both students cite gaming as a means to cope with the pandemic: using games as a way to wake up during study breaks by entertaining themselves, socializing with friends, and meeting new people with shared interests.

Gwen is an LU5 student who recently returned to the wards after 2 years online.

Jayr is a BS Public Health graduate hailing from Marawi City, currently in LU5 and back in Manila for face-to-face classes.

Though gaming has become a respite for plenty, it also comes with its challenges. It can be hard to set boundaries between time for classes and time for playing online games, mainly because tools for this hobby are so readily accessible. Given the dynamic nature of our online classes, it can be hard to balance doing well in academics and setting aside time to level up your game character.

During and before the pandemic, Jayr grew to master the tactics and strategies of his favorite game, Mobile Legends, where he consistently wins and gains the MVP mantle.

Nevertheless, our online gamers have a few words of advice to those interested in pursuing the sport. Firstly, it is important to set your expectations when you start. You will not be a pro right away, but practice always makes perfect. Next, it is integral to find a balance between playing online games and studying. You can block off a specific time in the day specifically for games, while using the rest of the time for other tasks, especially those relating to academics. Lastly, playing with friends makes online gaming more fun. You can set up Discord channels with your gaming buddies, so that you can feel their presence in the game, as well as through audio and video.

Gwen spends her free time playing Call of Duty mobile, one of her favorite quarantine hobbies.

Content Creation

Another interesting hobby that some students of the college engage in is content creation. From creating studygrams to vlogging on online platforms like YouTube and TikTok, UPCM students have a real knack for making imaginative and inventive posts on social media.

One of the college’s most popular content creators is Isabela Andrea “Bela” Legaspi from UPCM Class 2025. She started creating online content in April 2021—her first video being a blooper reel of her Neuro OSCE with her father, PGH Director Dr. Gap Legaspi. The video went viral, and TikTok users began to ask questions on her life as a medical student. She then decided to create videos to answer them. One year later, she still posts her content on TikTok, usually focusing on day-in-my-life vlogs, where Bela captures her daily routine as a medical student. Whenever her days feel monotonous and life feels like a never-ending loop, vlogging helps Bela find the good in every day. Furthermore, with her frequent posting on social media, she has been able to create a support system with other medical student content creators and a community with those who watch her videos.

Bela Legaspi is an LU4 student from Class 2025 who has grown a following on TikTok – you can find her viral videos on her profile (@beli.button)!

One of the struggles that she faced with her hobby is the hate comments that people leave under her videos, which made her anxious during the start of her content creation journey. Although vlogging has helped Bela cope with the pandemic creatively, it has also made her feel burned out, especially when balancing content creation with academics. But through months of persevering, Bela now takes breaks from TikTok when she feels the need to, prioritizing medical school over content creation. Moreover, Bela chooses to ignore online bashers and to remember that her family and friends beyond the screen are there to support her.

Bela shares her tips for budding content creators: brainstorm for your niche that you want to post, and focus on these ideas instead of creating content that you think others would want to see. Post consistently, but keep in mind the topics that you want to share. It is also important to set expectations with views or likes, and to not be discouraged when these numbers are low when you first start out.

Bela likes to document her workouts, hobbies, and daily life as a med student by making TikToks, a lot of which have reached social media users widely.

Online Business

From selling food products to arts and crafts, managing an online business is another hobby that is growing in popularity among students. One student entrepreneur who has made a business out of her craft is Camille Joyce Tan from UPCM Class 2026, who sells made-to-order and customized amigurumi (knotted or crocheted plushies) and keychains.

Camille Tan is a student from Class 2025 who has found both passion and business in crocheting.

Her hobby-turned-business was inspired by the fact that she has always been an admirer of all things kawaii. She started creating amigurumi in the summer of 2020, when her twin brother gave her a crochet keychain. Inspired by this gift, she started watching YouTube tutorials and decided to open her own online business in December 2020 after mastering her craft. Camille noted that learning the Japanese art amigurumi became something she looked forward to, especially during the lockdown. During her days spent at home, she would research techniques online, as well as look through social media for inspiration from other creators.

Though maintaining this online business and hobby became difficult when her academic workload started piling up, blocking off time each day to spend time doing her craft helped Camille relieve her stress. She was also able to balance her academics with the management of her business by setting realistic goals for herself with regards to the number of custom orders she could take monthly. Another hardship Camille faced is that she tends to compare herself with other creators. However, she reminds herself that everyone has a different journey and that there is space in the crochet community for all creators to thrive in.

You can find her handmade creations on her Instagram online store, Crafted by Camille (@craftedby.camille)!

Some tips for aspiring entrepreneurs from Camille include focusing on your strengths and noting what makes your business unique. It is also important to be consistent when posting on social media, if this is your means of marketing your business, and to maintain frequent engagement with your followers. In the pursuit of staying consistent, Camille also stresses the importance of bettering your craft, especially with many online resources at one’s disposal. It would be best to learn how to adapt, in that sales may vary per month, as this will help you get through even the worst of slumps. These times pose an opportunity of experimentation to reassess your marketing plan, try different strategies to promote your products, or do something different with your business. Lastly, don’t underestimate the power of word of mouth.

There are definitely a myriad of interesting online hobbies that one can start exploring during the pandemic. Although in-person activities are slowly becoming more accessible, our two years online have created many opportunities for fun and enrichment. But beyond these activities where productivity abounds, hobbies that offer a respite from being a busy medical student are what matter most. It is these passions that inspire us that we must seek out to fully enjoy our medical school days.